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The Weaker Vessel 



The Weaker Vessel 



By 

E. F. Benson - 

Anthor of 
" Account ItoadMd.- •• Ja|g««,t." -Sb.iv*." ^. 



Toronto 
Mccielland and Goodchild 



1913 



fR6oo3 



J jiU835 



W!^:U: ' :m:,, 



CHAPTER I 

the deoorations were oomDlfi^^,i-*u^ '^"^ **^® service, 
who had in the mZ CSrSnShl^ .*^°!?!^* ^- R»°^en 
She might have addEd^tST^lV °'' ^^°'' T^'y *«teful 
she beS 80 disposS tlTt th«il'^*'?'' ^°°» *^^ *™th. had 
Wreaths of SZd b^lef dLkS'l± '^^^^t^m^. 
mixc^ with ivy and lamelto rivVtt^ Sl^P^^P^t '^^' 
of piUars betw^n the nave of ?he « W?k ^"^^ "P *^« 'o^ 
the choir seate in front of the orZ ^^ ""^ *^? *^^«' '"'^^ 
farinaceous vegetables But otS^J ? « positive bower of 
naceous had Ln med tHe^l tL T^*?"" *5*? *^« '«i- 
which, though equaSlylastefto^nrnr^i'iT^V*?^ »* ^« they 
sense. AH upX sfdeTS fh«^ T"^, **" ^^^aUenge anothi 
were rows of Sis^^^S ci^mo^T^^'^^l. ^^ ^^<^' 
the windows, mix^^h JS oo^**" T? ^^bbages. while in 
and melons, and PeaT fnH ?„ ??" «»d »>arley. were apples, 
swedes and'p^mpS' Abe^v Jh^'^JS'^'^d 8^* l^mpy* 
■night be desOTibSlas " aS^W .'^*^°«P?«'« w« w£t 
^^as likely to be much fainter rli ' ^^ *^® ^^^^ day it 
^^as one ^f tZTt^th^i^h^^Z'l^lP^^ *> chich 
aith of the middle of fc£ nStZ??^ V **® devotional 
limestone piUars ottbLtvilrS^i century, with round 

«ohes. wi?h ^tch-p^e S^^'I^Af ^ supporting pointed 
iles. with windows LwldXvioW H'i '^^ '^ en^ustic 
lominated, showing a^^lrobS^^lrf?"^ °2^**^ P^ 
;he precision of ac?rkinWeSth°fl^^^^^ ^*^ ^f^ 
«d, as a companion maritimHcene Sf ^.f °'*'*^^ ?'*^®' 

'uraousjeweUed^SippersoverTpuSs^f^^^^^^ in 

vaa complaoentlv rfi«niinf ,«« u*^ j^ ®*- ^sewhere Joseph 

'<JI, from whioi eeoaiw sSnST^ ■nto a sparaom brown 
'«*. « of antiq"eX<to "^°t3 if""^'- .^»' ««•» 

jied the t»c«;„f «>.ters"s:^';a:,';tats.. 

1 



• 



I I. 



2 THE WEAKER VESSEL 

choral efEort, which included an anthem " Ti!! ™if ^P®***" 
shall stand so thick with com thatTheyThall Wh Sin*^^ 
by that amazing musician T Feiriq am? « »J^ ^ .^', 
Nunc dvmUtia by E BlShom ^' f^lt ^T*^ ^^ 

hll^'' T fu^ ^^'Ti. ^ *^'^'" «aid Mrs. Ramsden " We will 
begm with the anthem, 'The vallevs ala^' m-Vi "'f ^" 
One, two, three, four." ^ ^^''- ^''®^^®«' P^^ase. 

Miss Armitage emitted a faint scream 
Organ, please," said Mrs. Ramsden 

UJeanor Ramsden, her stepdauchter wVin \,^a ..^* i. 
.tte^g. put down . pedd-SoteTtoh mSSe^n^"*,^" 

but they did not repeat the sublect Thev W «»«!.« ' 
simple harmonies. Then the trebl^Bana ^tS 1f^ ^""T 

^uf^-, ^."™P'? sequence of h«rmome3 (T FertT™* 
modulation m the organ oheered them up^d iJtrn. to 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



3 



Itheir origiiuU key agam, and with " Mixture " on f i, ^ 

^d a scale passase brnkAn wi.l!. -auxiiure on the orffan 

Vom the baSTfhe ^&^^3J?J«^?* '° T' *'«^ 
aerriment. ^m-aem ended in a burst of buoolio 

A^°^-o^^^ :^'<'Vf';. and Whole 
irgnn-benoh, turning overWh^n^^S^ " ^ ""> <>' the 
ftoj» when ElS*hS Lr KdTcSS^ ""nipulating 

>id iTekSj.r'™'- "'^ y°" "« •«»' '""t sickening .tufl r • 
e.^^^ hynn..Wk .«, ^f^H^t I^^^^St 

feeor^^ s^e tys£~f ^^^^ 

fison, and if the organ coJilT l/° ^"^^ ®^ *^e ^erse in 

Nes Organ. pK." ^ "" '^"^^ ^^^ ^^a^- 

rhe organ gave them some fresh ar,^ tt. ^ • 
fortunately, several of the tenS^aSS k ™* °^°'^- 
3. piece was to be sung in Sn ^^ ^f'^ ^°^«°* *h^t 
lamst Eleanor's most oii^K^?' ^-"^ '^®"' part-singing 
Imely weird and cuSis St ^r'"^/^^?"^^ »^ex? 
M modem renderingTf a rourh^Z?,^^ 
k Ramsden beat oS her hySo^^'^ °'°''"^- ^gain 
L ^r ^^' ^^-« '" «^e Jaid. "°Ld the organ a shade 

&el'ld SL^TbtL'ts'^^^ ^".^^^^^ «*-^en 
len she was in the ndddle S a^!ff J^^T^ ^*° ^ place 
btitious reading of '^he S^onH M *^ entrancing and sur- 
I work in question had got Sto th^; Tanqueray." How 
^ know ; all she knew?SrT^iial T'^^^ ^* *" «li« did 
' wanted nothing so m^h af f f f /^''''^ ** i*' was that 
readsurreptitioSly So sh^had Sf '*-.*''^ *^** ^* "^"^t 
ier cover of the Parish Ma?« • ^®'' ?.* '"*° *^e orchard 
idleof thesecondStlfffSe^rSl^^ «°' '°^ 
jrmed her of the mdisp^tion ofX Pnf f """ °"* ^d 
^tice was imminent, and now by W s^df.^?^^" , ^^°^- 
«B Magazme with the dubious XX^ SX^SdSl 



* THE WEAKER VESSEL 

°i **•». Straight from the orchard she had come into the 
A^r^- ^Pl "^'o^d verse followed. In the midd W iJ 
i^ertion ^^ ^ '*"" ^*'^^ Magazine bloated with some 

ool^^hw^ ^°'' ^? there. Nellie ?" she asked, her voice 
covered by the resounding choir and the Open Diapasons. 

«.,vi J ^^ ^ ^''"°*^, ^ **'^®^^ ^^^^*'^- I>on't tell mother." 
^,11 i^,?"""' ^Pf*'^, the syllables in time to the tune. 

rTU] out everything, Alice ! 

Alice pulled out everything. 

'' Something mother wouldn't like ?" she asked 

" wt Tl^ii!'^^' ^^ ^ *^°"'* ^'^^ this." said Eleanor, 
wnat did that ass want to get mfluenza for «" 
I don t suppose he wanted it. . . . It just came." 

"Thank you." said Mrs. Ramsden. " And the Service Yes 

^^£r ^ ^ ^^"*- ; ^\^?^ ^°^^ magnify.' ^toIpW' 
iJlinkthom was straightforward. He gave no fucal 
promises which he faUed to perform, like T. Ferris He htd 
an obvious tune, and when that obvious tune was done he 
H5i*?° r obvious tune. It is true that in the Gloria he 
S^twT*^\°^ *^^1 obvious tunes together, but soon 
W JJ / T*^ hopelessly incapable of accomplishing that 

iSfniT/^1' *"!' ^^^"^^ °°^ *° **k« °^« of itself, clung 
staunchly to the other, and reinforced it with something ver? 
uncommon and chromatic on the pedals. Then there was i 

f^fT^',*""*^ Mrs Ramsden said. " One, two." and then 
everybody else sang, " Amen." 

.. "^^*^ y??;'>»\d Mrs. Ramsden. with a little apprecia- 
Z\f^?- I* ^ «lo"o)«. « it not ? Mr. BlinkthSra was 

mX*^ 1 •*.?'' ^^^ ""^'^^'^ ^'i^' *^^ I remember him. when 
quite a httle girl, composmg that noble Magnificat. When he 
played It over first we thought it was at least Handel But 
It was dear Uncle Evelyn. Thank you. Copies, please " 

.J t ^^T^ ""^ ^""^^ ^^^^y^ ^«^« ^^o»ght to his niece, 
and she put them m the music-cupboard by the organ. The 

f^Z?!ji '^'"''^ * ^f ^^' ,r/ *^^ ^^°°^ ^i'^ which she opened 
It caused a melon to roll from its place, and dash itself on to 

FWnn^"- "t^ 'V'^f """^ "^^'^ "P«' ^'^ harm was done, 
fw t r?/"*'"^!' }^ concealed the Parish Magazine and 
that which It contamed by the simple expedient of sitting 
upon It and. havmg looked up Uncle Evelyn's works, he? 
stepmother spoke to her in her earnest voice 

Thank you, Eleanor," she said. " I am sure you will be 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 5 

torcL dTvou tWnt H "" ^°r"""^ y^'^ ^^^ d« the best 

take you feel surer ? Of course. AJice wil^relHou withJhe 

oiil eS,v h?f nf M y/f^u° "V'^h practice, do they not ? 
ome easy bit of Mendelssohn, do vou think i ThLJ\!lL 

leetmg at six. and it is close on that now " J^lothers 

louiJpH T o^"" asked these various questions, not as if they 
t an answer, but as statements to the effect thit 

b tUueh ?n5 ""^ P'-^y *'^ ^^*^^- foi^ or ire'timta 
faWofiV' ^'^^'^' '""^^ °^ *^« g'*^^' "Songs 

blf"' v^ntnri''TiJ ^°«''°'^f S^* * "*"« "^o^e expression 
po It, ventured Mrs. Ramsden. " Of course we do nof 

tr^^ ^T *^" '°"«h °f Mr. Courtnerbitlam sS?e 
_ .nl find an hour's practice very helpful.^ ThankTou^ 

lS7Z:SL"TtL''1:'-T^ '°y ^* the be^UowHere 
iimatfZTfL l*^^ church, in states of about equal 
Sfn „ . f h*^^es8 of their lots, for the blower 

■ui« insertion m the Parish Magazine. Instead of whinK 
W Eleanor reopened the wearif^ T Ferris which- 

SS^dtf 'Tl^**^ ^'' ^^^ ^ ^^ semi-urban parish 
E wS she is Lm W ' *"^ ^^'"'^ especially does she 



6 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



oiroumstanoes will, so to snoAir " o»„^ »» ^ ^ , 

it was so xHfhpllo? ^™°*5 uncongenial to her. Certainly 
Sen ^are TfT ^JT^t"' .°^ *^« ""^^^ain proffl^J 

were less natJ^Wcana.^lA^^?^ *^^ ?^"«^*^ conditions 
life here worn hltn\tfj^'}'''i *° '^^ '^** «^« ^^^ ^^^ 
crannies Inroads iijSivJJ^^^ '^°°?°* *^« ^^'^"d'^d »i"le 
itself These Uhu Sp^^°^ ^®' ^°"^ '"^d® a garden for 

ringed aboS bv sandv Sl^^'^^l^- f '?""«' ^* ^ *™«' ^«re 
but^ heHeL^l Sl^nPfl^^^^^ ""^T °?"° «^^°»«<* illimitable. 
aens^blyqS'db^rem "'"^ '° ^''' surroundings was 

mo^e*of'thrLlS.« ^ r'^,'.i*.r«t be confessed, partook 
churV emptied Sthf W«f ^'**^^" ^*"^' ^^^ when the 
tiles, it wT^th a ip^ «f. ^^P" ''^'^"f "* °^ *b« encaustic 
begaiiaCtWstSdvSSr^^.r'''^ of impatience that she 
ovir. of such a sfS ^ *'''¥"'• ^^« «ordidnes8. more- 
could eLiJv L J ^ was accentuated by the fact that she 
M good as^ts 'if'^S'^^ ^*^°"* *^°"We an anthem quite 

takinrnaJni K ^^^^.^^ i^ ^°* «o "lucii the capacity for 
«^? f Tfineie'rZr ^*^ ^^ being educated. It V^even 
so it sim; «nrf!l P*'?i' ^"""^ sensibility, which by instinct, 

l^ow^.'^wh^Ie vetX ni^^^ — ^''''' ^"* '^''^ ^ ^« 
capabl?of^Xinf W^ i"^ • "^^ ^?^°^ature, whether it is 
the wedm!? ^^^i^"^®^ ^''^. ^"^^^ *bat it will itself produce 
seMibHf IT -flr^- E^q^site sensibility is not enough • 
Sect tLnlf -f "^^«F P^od'^ces more than the pale flower' 
^rteot though It may be, of criticism. It was I fro^e 
hSie ; W^^ '^h *^^5 i^^^estigated the anthem. She 3a 
h!l!ultw^^' «^dber dark-grey eyes had that slSy 

who 3 if ^^iffi^Tr^ ^^^'^ *^** ^ characteristic of those 
wno nnd It difficult to see very distinctly. Close over them J 

{ZZ.71 """'r *^" °^ ^^^^ «y«brow. and above a low ^ 
forehead shono the only beauty that had as yet lefi^tely 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 7 

taJEoa up ito abode with her. Hair, abundant and silky, of 
tef^J •toaw-oolour kmdly but erroneously oaUed gSde? 
but of the true reddish-tinced metal, crowned her in fS 
plenty. Her face was smalf. and of the creamy whitenMsS 
[00 ten goes with golden hair, her nose. chadlSfstm and 
Indetenmnate in shape, ruthlessly labeU^ (with reaaoi) by 

in^^^ ?^*¥K^°^. «^"*>'" *nd her mouth large and 
JM pp^. What the whole face would be like in afothS 

Itepmother. who almost always took the straightforwardl and 
«^ S^ir«!i """ «t'f ghtforward and sensibllhere when she 
aid that she was afraid that Eleanor was growing uo verv 
Mam." The use of the word " afraid " onlV^^deviatiS 
rom her genera straightforwardness, for she rl^rdS goS 

^teVatfh^*" '""^'rl *^?^^- ^* ^^' thW^e.^fo^ 
i^n. i *if "^^^ T?' f.®""?®" ^'^^^^ ^ this regard. But 
KfS^ ^!, °'^ amiable little inconsistencies which redeem 
^rtam human natures from the tragic picture that they 

«^ L. ITil' «h®,often saw with satisfaction that her 
i^r ?^^i,^f ^r;^h'> l^^d just now helped her elder haS! 
lfn« Ar Pu 1°"* ^*°P'' "^^ growing up very pretty. But 
&^r- ^"f.l '^^* expression, which clearl/w^ a Jounter- 
laim agamst the possible author of her good looks 
i Heanor studie(f the laughing and siHging of the valleys 
ith care and contempt down to the ve?y end of the sS 

S'int"'\'^^" ^l'^^^ P^^y^d o7the^daircot 
bTon^he 3 nf.T^"'*'^^ *^r8h a sudden failure of 
S Cr.^S!/^°* *^.® r^^^"" ^"^ th® mournful hooting of 
el W FnSflf Jr.T ^*^^' *> defrauded cricketer ^the 

E?nf ^A-i^i ^f "^e«s ^OT his probable fatigue and of 
kve him ^^ ^^^^5 *'^^^^ ^ *h« P*^i«h Magazine, she 
at^lrul? PT^' *il^ T^* °^ ^'th the second act of the 
^iS^?.^^• ^^1 ^\ °.°* ^"i*« understand it aU It 
fcie'and hr'f '^""a ^^Y^^ ^^f "^^^^8 ^" unsuitable 
t^naLfJ f ^"^""^^ "^i^ '^^^ ^^« it- But if a woman 
k? X^^ iL.^'^r'u^l,^^ 80ing to marry him next 
h the evpn^<,T V^"??^ '^® ?°* °°"^« 'o««d and see him 
Itte,^ tharcftLr"^^ 'f was nice of her to give him all the 
fed Mr« P * , P^^'P'® h*<^ bitten to her. Again, why 
pd Mrs Costdyon matter to anybody ? Perhaps however 
rknl*r^'^^°'^^y attractive, and krs. Tanqu^rky XS 
5 know her very much. Anyhow, there seemed TblsoS 



-r". _.-.a.-. 



8 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



had hlid a rest, it w" bSL ^^Sff^°'' T"* ^^"i* I-»ke 
the Parish MagkiinHnd ^o th^o,? K J?" J*?*l»«'»y hack in 
fgain. Her stepmothTr gfe r^^^l^^^^'*^^™'* Service 
he gave them the SSre TZ^' ^ '^^ *^** ^^^n 
thought it was Handd at least ToSf^'^^fy ^ *" 
for no reason excent IhAfff ^o Eleanor's taste, modem 

expressed a^?aro7on^ontWM°^ir' '^*»d«^ ** !«•«*' 
templated. To HeTJ^ ?,*^** ^- R^msden had not con- 

''fe^-''^^"-^^^ Blinlcthom's 

oi^aJaTver r^^^^^^^^ i* was not 

which brought out ™]\Stiie "^^i if^."l8 .°". *^« foot-pedaf. 
and a terrible batli^nX' that "T^f *^? ^ ^ ^uSna 
possible to make soS so sVe^^^^^^ it was 

what they said tIia ^„^ sweet that it did not much matter 

particulaJiwi, Sie ?he°'' V^"^ ''""^.f T «»"^ba " t 
voice. There miff^h« Ii^ 7°^ Humana," like a human 
behind the S^nM^37«l7^* »>«• fmewhere up there 
ut.erance, and she pffi a Thi^'°"! *^°*^ ^ mvsterious 
it. accompanyiniTitVftH t ■ extemporized phrase on 
Dia^ason'^sSow^ltLhrrt^^'?' ^'^ th? Stopped 
some truth against dislSie onh^ioT V?^ *«.««^rtion of 
It seemed ci^less whet£r thf tSTo^th^ o.T^ '^ °'^*8« ' 
It or for it. Thev miir«^,«^j ^ '°® °*^®" was against 
fident voice out5JkrSr^'AnS^,u«™°l^^«<^' »"^t the%on- 
the vague dreaiSand ,fiS' t ^ *?u° ^^® °»™e back from 
Evelyn begiSfto'' ^»^ J^'^'^'^u^^^*' '^ ^as only UncS 
not do at Si The°e h^t^ZV^^ ^^«^*y" ^h^ would 

Shr^e^t^n t?MF J AM?Sp! 
And then? with full orea^ sT« „li I °?''*^ *° swelf-box. 
right through. * ' P'*y°'^ !■» Donna e Mobile " 

bono"""' *"■ ^■""«"»." *e called to the perspiring 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



memben did not ne^to ^ ^ churchyard, so that the 

Upiriting 8?rS of^U &1^°^«*' *H ^J^'"^^' '^d the 

Mii RaSsdenWofce SheT3 Jl"^^. ^or the moment 

that the Mother' MSin|wo^bStS?K*^°"^ ^ ^^^"°' 
Iwas no reason to do7o ^ItTh? 1 fi^ ^H'®' ^»'»e there 
Iwould be able to L^^witwT.*''?'^\'^^>«^'^»*«»»« 
Ipractised in a dSiCt S^i r? ^"tenmg) whether Eleanor 
long pause aftefSiTan^ J ""^'r* ?'^«^- Already the 
fcev^JJing th:'J:'oond act^te ^t\^\ '""^t^^^^^ ^'^ 

tee"ti;eTrrh« 

s./^"aL^*^^I^,^^^^^^^^ ^-. ^eanorr- she 

ffr^^y^^T:.^ ^^^*- of it faded. 

D speak to your father about tS " ' *"*" *^ oompeUed 
■ fL« . • T'^^-'^oo' «^o«e<* again. 

fthenatur«nrf«-«i^^ . ®d *o **' and anything that was 
H Wm 5i for Z'Sr?^'^^ ^^ ^'^.^ darter alj;j 
>e village o^an EWnnl ^ *^®^^' *^® P^*?^ *^^ Verdi on 
ftitudeToiUd^^be' H?t i^^"",,^"?^ ^«" ^^a* his real 
I Well, mv dSL- t; i-^ ""^^^ ""i^^y ^ thinking to himsell 

leatre, k^itl^t " and EWn*:^*'^' *?.'^^ barrel VnT^he 
ten Mrs SsdenluT^'' Y^'^d aeree with him. But 

Wie, my de^'^vou W«r ^^ "^^"^^ '"^ *« Eleanor: 
«^h you woiSd^t^Tntt^ ^" ''®?i^ yo'^' mother again. 

bk at her^r^nd ^LT^nT'^Ti^'Vu ^^ ^« ^°^d 
>wer spectacl^^' ^ y* ^''^^ "^^^^^ through his high- 

fariy t^Cr^^^^^ She wanted all the world. 

Jimal creS SrticSLw * *' *"^ *^^ ^^^d, and aU the 
fd worn-out hor^S to S "^\ ^''PP^^ *°d timid cats, 
fling and anxious to ^v^ ti^^^P?^ *^°'^' ^^^ she wa^ 
W of troubirof her o-^^ T! ^^^"^ happiness with a great 

pnnaeMobS" ^trsJrLlSF ^^^^^^^^g Played "La' 
r ^*^ ^'^ch spmt on the organ, because the 



10 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



jjjto «toih it oonodrably gtva to ber •tcpmotW for dero. 

(and did) mve much of her goods to feed the nonr a«^?!!! 
once cheeilally burned, if not her M^o^^l;^}^ 

was S^ W Ip^^"^^'^'^' The effect was that the cWld 
Stem^^he* "Jfr!^ I'^"?* """ ^^' ~^' »>"* 1^« ^« hurt 

come, since her stepmother was coing to renort t^« v!. J^ 

l^mnUe i^e^'.^*'r ^"'^ i? ^^« infinitesimal faciXt 
"^hf? *-f « "* ^ ^®' ** ^^^ locked the church-doOT • 

^ptember evening the m'ellow doziness of *?. the melS 



THE WEAKER VESSEL n 

>flowing oluilk-streaiM. bo that the direct rays of the sun. 

■S^^.'t^ "*"}"» ^^T '>? *^9^ ^^^«^ «' '^"•torly down. stU 
^tiJ'^fJ!^^!. •"? -traight-^sing .moke of the town. ^Wle 
■he and the churchyard, with ite grey tr-m»y irraves were 
tomersedintheearivt^ilicht. ToSorth nd«oK;.Td« 
Df the valley olimW steepTy and the serge-dad down of the 
Bumyhillj faded a ittle by the hot summer, still balked 
Jn the level light, while here in the narrowed plain between 
fhem the sunlight but touched the churoh-towfr Over thS 
lower-lymg water-meadows that bounded the churchyard to 
khe south the skems of dew had begun to spin their magicS 
kebs. As yet they hovered some ten feet from the groSnd 
lot yet condensed into the diamonds and pearls that sunriw^ 
iroufd surprise on the grass next morning. But Bracebridee 
Jeacon. jiith its clumps of native firs, stUl flamed above tF^ 
aews and dusk, and to the north of the valley the w^5ow2 
bf the vil a above the town flared as with fire within ^°^ 

Parallel with, and adjoining the churchyard " was the 
tITJ"?r''!? Pa^onage. ancT as Eleanor came into the 
E^hn«,T^^^ If ^^ swinging gate her father came out of 
tJTl^^ ^*'' t^ r'^T^ ^^' absorption in the serene 
kenmg had bamshed from her mind the episode of the organ! 
but the sight of him reminded her of it, and she insSv 
bade up her mind to tell him herself. instantly 

Oh, daddy," she said, taking his arm. " I did snoh a 
r^dful thing just now. You sj. it happened l^e thL I 
t^.T ^'T4?8 *^f """S*" f"'' <^^e choir-practice, and I had 
then'ld &T ' *"J-^^^ '^l U°°^« Evelyn's'seJSce. so. 
fwav T InT^''^ practising-of course, the choir had gone 

tZ7l &S 'ft thiols fofcr^" -"' ^'^y^' ^ 



"My dear, was that necessary ?" he asked. 
Yes, daddy, I had to. Of cou 



course, it was a pity that I 

I " vl"' v^"' ''"^ yp" thought you would like to tell me » 
I les. You see, there was a meeting in the vestrv and 
If course mother heard it, and came iH. She slid Se was 
bmg to tejl you so I thought I might as well '' ^ ""*' 

Ihat tht '}!JrL^''^ "^' it," observed Mr. Ramsden, feeling 

r . . vr T ^*^°^®"*^ ^as not hazardous. * 

M? R,.LT '°r'^-^ 1^ ¥p® y°" ^^'^'^ »n^d much, daddy." 

feavens for a moment. The red that blazed there faintly 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



12 

K2ff».i? Pinmp ohMnblo /mo and the plentiful iron-ffrev 
Hair that covered his head 8oinefh{n» mK\^JrIir ^^ ?^ 

don t wonder that mother wai vexed" '"™*PP'°P"*"'- ^ 




__. „„„ vucicB Humecning in my heart ( 

?hon?lF^T^'* guitar when itis mentioned. It is siiSmiw 
though ; I have not thought f it for years." ""^^^w. 

mmJ^A- 'w ^f,*^" ^°^^ *°^»«5« the sunset, and was 
mUdly and pinkly illuminated. His forty-five yeara hi do^ 

off^Iussnec^SilSrrnSwfil^fc^ «« t-k 

dtj"&?-|^^^^^^^^^ s1-^ 

XS agtS?^h"arh'^"^« ^'^' ^-^ '-' '-«^*^^ 
orSaS''" '°°^ ^ ""^ " *^"y ^^^'^^^ '°««th«r towards the 
;; 5>h, daddy, it didn't hurt, I hope V she asked 

34 rr.s ra*: »-;i^- ss;; 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 1$ 

" ThA« it very nice of you. You do remind me so muok 

,!1 ??' ^!i^^\}^^^ "^^y y?" •" '" •"« "wd. " Why, mother 
IhTve^ h^' " '*^ "'- '^' '•""' *""» '»"' ""^« piot.^^ you 

'• wuTTiiTk^ l!?*"* ^"f ^"" ?'^« ^^'•y ^i^e her." 
With all the beauty left out. ' 

He made an apologetio pause. 

"Why, yes," he said ; '^I suppose that is omitted But 
jrou ve got a very nice face, Nellie." ""itsea. uut 

She laughed. 

" Go on about Italy," she said. 

This was by no means a light request, for it was the rarest 
thmg m her world that her fathe?^hoild speak of ftlh^r 

Mian a few sketches made by him of Parami, where sosh« 

Vaguely was aware, he met and married her moTher -'i^d of 

tor ittie more than the picture in question told her. ' It had 

lot mfrequently happened that he had begun to 8pe:ik to h« 

If her mother, who Wi died when she was still not a veS 

Wd. but as frequently he had broken the subject off I .^oJe^ 

laatured in any way. But somehow, with the -liSa inTin- 

uition which resides in women as mysteriously as someTense 

jexphoable resides in the antenn* of moths,* she KwZt 

he subject withered, not because he had nothi^ to Sll her 

ut because he had too much. Deep down inhL heart she 

fas aware, there lay a great quiet fake of memory Some! 

teiV'^r *^ l^*^ '^ ^ ^^° artificiaUy frozen ow 
ad that her stepmother skated, so to speak, on the top oflt' 

t^"±.f °^^^" "?. *?' ^°" ^ «°' tliinVthere came a sudden 
lost which made it bear again, and she had lonaed timS 
hthoui number, that the thaw would be more^mpbte 
««v oaZ!/^*/ ^^' stepmother, even if immersed, wTperl 

[3 K^iiSSyr "^^^^ *° '''''- ^-''^' '^- 
'l There was silence. 

■ Well, we must go to Italy together, my dear, .ome time," 



u 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



■ nl T ' , Jv" *''\^*^' ^**""»' yo« ««e. though I am sure 
no one would have thought it. Itolynow! H^wweino^ 
unagine the country round Naples, where she andT went afS 

mg as tins ! There is no harvest festival there, as we under- 
stand It m the way of corn. I don't even quite k^ow ifThere 
M com there at all, and I think they must iXrT it from 
scmewhere But the autumn festival is the vS? There 
IS nothing but grapes. I suppose now they Shem inTo 
hydraulic presses and squeeze them, which I da?e say is much 
more convement and hygienic, but in the year of whichTam 
talking there was none of that. The oxen used to draw ereS 

-atrt ol^s.^nYr.^''%°^ rP^« "P *° *^^ side ofThe"^:: 
-a sort of small bathmg-tank, my dear-and then the boys 

?h.1/vr^ T « ^r P"? J"' ^^*^ ^^^i'- t^o"sers turned up to 
then: knees at first, and later on, when the vat filled much 
higher than that, and trod the grapes. It was all ^;vTav 
I suppose you and Alice now would Wl it a hi^h oYdTiS^e^^^' 

girl.'"'' Sd^lTer'?''' °" '"^ ^'^''' '^^ '" ^^^^ *^« 

m^'fhV!t "^''^'' ^'i' "^y '^^*'''" ^""'^ ^^- Ramsden. adjust- 
mg the silver cross he wore on his watch-chain, "because 

^^dtir "'^'' *""r1,*x" SO into the vat. as hey S? 

^^t^nT^i'T^'J^''^ ^ ^^ '"^^ ^^ '^^^ «ort of pagan 
superstition. But I have several times danced, as vou caU it 
on the grapes. The people said that the Signer CfeSe whiJh 
means the English gentleman, did twice as much wo?k' J any 
tlnfT T°f r°- They were very polite ablut it On 
t^Z P^"""^' ^^^^ *° ^^ ^* ^^' ^"'^^ «"d they paid me no 

Eleanor laughed. 

af Sl'^Tf ^^r^ ^""f^'^, "P * little-for he had had a slight 
memory ''"'^^^°' ^^°^ ^'^' better-and coquetted S 

" \f^ sure I don't see why I should not," he said " There 
is nothmg so ridiculous about it, my dear. It would have 

orinn7-^°°^^^ °^.°^t*° ^^' ^y««" ^"' "ke a To^i^t, and 
o^eu^ my guide-book, and ask the way to some chiich 
or museum Besides, we were staying with some South 
Italian cousms of your mother's, who hal a famoTvinewd 
and labour was scarce that year. All the young men of Se 



v-*.^ 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 15 

ff ^w °? *^® ^f^- ?^ ' ^ *°* ^^'^ yo« would caU it a 
agh old tune. And when we came bwk in the evenfaia 

i^«;™s,^"s ."Sir vr r -L'Si r 

: They had come to the orchard, which lay at the back of 

b.r^ifhY'^'"" atten/chMLra^d 't^L^^Z 
K7Jn r.^ ^ ?u ''■^'' °^ e^P^-ession) of Mr. Courtney ^d 
be two sat down there again. Under one arm she stiu hdd 
te Parish Magazine, with the copy of " Th« ^ZZH Jr 
Caqueray " embedded in it, but rshe sat do^Tslin^d 
feditu'p^tXr^^' *""'^^' °^ ^^« gras. HeVffi 
I " Ah, a very clever play," he said •' I wenf r^iti^ ^ 
jamma to see it. She did not like it, I remlmber-^ C 
p never saw the last act. But— do vn,, H.tS; xT^v u ' 
ff^^,^you-adingit? Indt?iVm°no?^e^S?d?^ 

I Oh, daddy don't bother !" .he said " There isn't an^ 
Urn m anything, unless you want to find it. 1 dS wa^? 

^gain the cherubic expression left him 

I aled ""^ "*"*"' '''''* '^ * "**^^ advanced, don't you think «" 

Is?" -"- -K rjt .T^-- 

Nut do you think that your mother would like " he 

fcoS:L^ '"' ^^' "^"' - -'o-t- that wa, 

irSai^hSer— 'otiuS:j'^:ts:^ 

r This is a private transaction," he observed 
TboT ^^"^ ^'' "'''^* ^^^ ^PP^°^^^. ^n<i sat down on 
; Italy, daddy," she said ; " and mother " 
WeU . . . we were both very young. I was twenty-five. 



16 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



WM LL^ "? T°" ^ you quite old, but it isn't. She 
was eighteen— about as old. really, as I was. And there was 
just one year my dear. She die/ when she was as old m yT 
N^ a year older than you. You are eighteen, are you not ? 
J^n ^"ILS ir °^^'l '^Z""^ Seventeen kad two : SCiJ 
th^ crr.^ M V" ^^^y ' ?**^ 3 just She. Autumn and 
tne grapes. NeUie. and spring ad the wild orchidT 3 
summer and lizards on thf^lls. and 4iter anS tht'wood 
firw! Dear me. It seems like a sort of poem '" ""« '^ooa 

beforrWILJir^ ''^^- .^}^ ^'^ neverheard as much 
v^ut A s»«h l>esan m satisfaction ; it ended in a sort of 
wild regret for thmg« she had never known. 
Oh, daddy, my heart aches !" she said. 



CHAPTER II 

Mm Ramsdbn's temperament was as angular as her nerson. 

which >va8 as angular as a turnip-ghost^ In neithw^ ?^ 

deed. .. any of them) was there a'rfunded cor^r you coX 

no more pass close to her without being pricked by^her W 

^elbow than you could live with her witLutToSng iS^ 

Sre wJi^'S'^J'" '^''^ »?[d i^ncelike projections Kr^3. 

There were to her no such things as venial sins or faults that 

t were better corrected with a smile instead of a frown litha 

a thmg was right or it was wrong, for, if not. aTshe sim^ 

^ times remarked. "Where are we?" She, it rn^v be m^n 

I tioned, was usuaUy there. ^ ^^^ 

i With regard to lovable qualities she was less effftPtiV*»l^ 

\Z?A ®^" ^^ J^°* ^^y f^vouredTthThem herS^ 
iaZ.1 i!.T \P«rf««t agglomeration of virtues and aTaU 

Jcardmal pomts she was fully, if not aggressively -irnish^ 
WvJf i^^'.P^'-^P. i^^ made her so^retemat^uraUy^eMi: 

Lr ^J"^ IT*^ ^ *^^ *'^°»o'^ o^ othe? Christian and X 

ter"*^ n^ P?*'^*^* ^^^'^i*^^ ^^^ numerotT^ere theiJ 

i»f ^ * • . ^o^aWy there was no society in EnSand 
^hich stamp^ on wickedness and discouraged diVerS to 
n^meit nl T "^'^i"* -^d generally s^bscrTb^tZrh* 
ofwhJ^i, u-^'l.'^'*^®^^ associated with those ii^titutioM 
Df Hfo L^^'^^^^i^ *° ^*^^ fellow-sufEerers from the f e vS 
Df life happier. She wanted to make them good or if nS 
that, to put discouragement in the way Tthek b^L bS3 
These appeared to her to be the ,ame t'Li^g. wMch ^ey^^^ 
I 11 /^' ^^'^ ^° dommant a sense of duty, she was not 
.ho ly devoid of an appreciation of mundane plLuriXueh 
she looked upon them rather in the light of rrfrSbmen?to 

tak«l2!t • 1? • ^i^ f^^^P^® *° go o^* ^^ore breakfast, and 
itlml^i "^""l^ "* ^^^ ^temoon ; she liked them even to p*av 
ln.«f A^"" i"^^""' *^<1 *o defeat them herself She bv nJ 

means thought of the world as a vale of woe ; she wa^ aw,^ 
I 17 2 



18 THE WEAKER VESSEL 

that it was a very pleasant place if you were gifted with 
irreproachable principles, though shej^" /^^^^ /Jl^/a^^^J 
aw^ that it was a mere honeycomb of temptations if you 
were not. She was fond of the proposition that one thmg 
••led on to" another, and dislikecf card-plaving for that 
reason It led to gambling, and gamblmg led to drunken- 
n^ and drunkemiess led to the devil. Thus post-prandial 
diversions at the Vicarage did not include any f ?i^ .9f o^JJ" 
Saying. Indeed, she was on the verge of fhrnking that the 
Sctial pieces of pasteboard adorned with kings and queens 
and various pips were things in themselves not proper J fee 
violent language and doubtful jokes. For the same sort .w 
^on she^liked gaiety, though she often laughed her«eK 
at a certain type of joke, of which the story of the curate s 
egg may S ^en ai an example, and told that particdar 
story herself very often and with «eat success ; but m the 
general way gaiety led to levity, and levity led to the devJ. 
fust as druiienness did. It may be mentioned that she 
was the daughter of a Viscount who was also a clergyman, 
and liked his letters addressed " The Reverend the Viscount. 
For. as he truly said, he was a Reverend by choice and a 
Viscount by accident. But since. his birth was perfectly 
regular, it really looked as if he was a Viscount on purpose 
The reader will grasp Mrs. Ramsden's mmd with crucial 
accuracy if he wUl fully understand that she approved of her 
father's Joke about himself, but would not have approved of 
the subjoined comment to it, . , , , ,t. i. _„» 

That evening the daughter of the accidental Viscount was 
having supper by herself, since the Mothers' Meetmg occupied 
her time tUl seven, which was the dinner-hour at the Vicwrage, 
and at seven she had to go to see what she believed to be 
" a very sad case," and one on which she knew exactly where 
she was. She did not get home till nearly ten, and had egg, 
cocoa, and marmalade. Her husband came to sit with her, 
the girls having gone up to bed. and, when fhe had assuaged 
the firat pangs of hunger, she was able to talk about the very 
sad case, and other things. , 

" And to think that she was a kitchen-maid of my own '. 
she said For the moment Mr. Ramsden drew the inference 
that other people's kite' -maids didn't matter so much. 
" You prepared her for co .^irmation yourself, too. 

Mr. Ramsden coirected his first impression. The particular 
sadness was that one who had had the advantage of livmg in 
their house %ould have swooped into sin. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 19 

laeleep." °°"^'* °°* *«^ ^e' because she wks 

;; fnd the child ?" asked Mr. Ramsden. 

1 understand the child is a healthy male " «aM i,- •* 
mshing her toast and marmalade ^ ' ^^^ ^ ^6' 
Mr^ Ramsden fidgeted in his chair 

^ !!°'£ -Me that p«>r F«^y°Z mSt""™*^" ' '» 
Then where is her husband ?" asked Mrs Ranud^ 

., e:;,"^Lrnrr/-^»-,'rx^^ '°^^^^^- 

'^.S4"™ ™- "--"^o?fhat?.^^ she. 
nd often I have seen him talking to vlr.Z ^ , ^^*®» 
hirS'-a' Sffi.-^'^d "SI??" ^^ 

fcnrer^c£^AS~^^^^ 
>ong, and now thisTi hTv^^^Z^f T ^ "^"^ 
lease smoke if you feel molinrf^ '^'^'' '"'»"• "«• «> 

[Apparently he did not 

[feel so Lch interest. hi^£,^ ^^b^ T "' ^° ^^ « 
it met her by chance goin^ d^ the Hi.J^^Q. ^°? '*^' y°» 
lo. and found she was li^?L at^ In^J^^^ ®*'^* *^° days 
t e^f^y respectable t^ tl do SitoX- ^''J *^^ 
"- had had a baby. That also t ^ J^^^ ^^^ ^O'^d 
^ to do. It often hapT^ns An^ a perfectly respectable 

FMy'^.tfi^^:Tami^'rn^t*^''r™»^»''«l>- 



20 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



leave you unprepared. Now, about other things. We had a 
practice 6f the ^oir this afternoon, and in the indisposition 
of Mr. Courtney, of which you may not have heard (infiuenza, 
and a temperature of 103*^), Eleanor took the organ for him. 
I am bound to say that she {dayed very fairly, though, of 
course, there was nothing of that deeply religious touch which 
Mr. Courtney has. That, however, I could not expect from 
Eleanor, and I did not. However, as I say, she played very 
fairly, and I am ^ad to say I thanked her. I suggested to 
her, when the choir-practice was over, that she should remain 
at the organ and practice by herself, for we are doing Ferris's 
anthem, and Uncle Evelyn's Service. Even Mr. Courtney says 
that the latter is by no means ecwy, so what must it be to 
Eleanor ? Well, the Mothers' Meeting took place in the vestry 
afterwards, and in the middle I suddenly heard the organ 
blare out. She must have pulled every stop out, which Mr. 
Courtney seldom does. He says that there is hardly ever anv 
need to employ the full organ with our comparatively small 
choir. But it wasn't that which arrested my attention ; it 
was what she played. It was a sort of waltz tune, and she 
said it was by Verdi. On the organ, and in church ! I was 
terribly upset." 

" Eleanor has told me," said her husband. 

" There again ! I said to her that I felt myself obliged to 
tell you, and one would have thought that was enough. But 
of course, if Eleanor has told you, why, you know." 

The conclusion appeared sound, when it was pointed out. 
It did not occur to li&s. Ramsden to put into words what she 
really meant — ^namely, that Eleanor had taken the wind out 
of her sails in breaking the terrible news to her father. And 
yet Mrs. Ramsden was by no means wholly unamiable ; in the 
main her perpetual dissatisfaction with other people was due to 
the desire that causes for dissatisfaction should eventually 
be eradicated, and, as she sometimes said, unless a person's 
faults were pointed out, he would probably go on in ignorance 
of them, and thus not be enabled to correct them. But the 
duty of pointing them out, which so clearly in Eleanor's case 
devolved on her, since Eleanor had no mother, had unfor- 
timately sweetened the process of doing so, and it would be 
idle for the impartial observer to pretend that it was at all 
unpleasant to her. Even if it had been, her sense of duty 
would have made her point them out just the same. She 
also, on her side, fully desired, in the abstract, that her own 
faults should be pointed out to her ; and if ever her husband 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 21 

Und look o«t for «,y .uoh Sden^ to t«°°.^hf l^ii 

.id ^'fc ■*!?'' ™PP<f» »•■« intended to tell me " he 
^„1» •• ^^ '°™'* '"' ""o'™ to ten mo : she jmt Zk SS 

^n'ff»!{I.u \*^o . *^^ ™o8t insidious enemv Shn 

f ^^5°^*^®° "^"^^ "°* ^e^P interruptimr 
I My dear my dear!" he said. ^ ^' 

feanor of lightnes^^nd ^.t 7 "7^^:- ^o ; I only accuse 
le choir-pirtice too wW °^ ^^^^iT' And Ji^t after 
I any tune ranf in if^ A ^ ^^^ T°"^^ *^»^e thought that, 
kved it^f tfi^ 1^ i^"" ^^^' ^o *^at without thought she 

S5fSF«^'«srto"£? 

^\nd she waited for him to do so. 
^ „ ppropriate. She said she was sorry she had vexed 



2S 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



i 



Vn. Bamsden folded up her napkin, and put round it the 
napkin-rmg made ont of wood from the Mount of Olives, 
with some curious blottesque-looking printing on it, believed 
to be Hebrew characters. 

T " ^* ™*'ters very little whether she vexes me or not, 
James, she said. " And I am sure I had no thought what- 
ever of self about it. What matters is that she played that 
tune m waltz-time in the church." 

•< B ^^^^' ^^^OTom smile came over her husband's face. 
But, my dear, there is nothing immoral in waltz tunes,'* 
he said. Three crochets to the bar is not inherently base 
In fact. Fight the good fight ' is in what you oaU waltz- 
time. "^ 

Mrs. Ramsden rose. 

" Of course, then, if you agree with Eleanor, and think she 
is perfectly right to play an operatic air in a sacred buildinc 
and on a sacred instrument " 

" ^"* \^°^'^- ^ *o^^ ^er it was most inappropriate. So 
it was. Also I do mind the fact that she vexed you. I don't 
like your being vexed." 

"That, dear James, I repeat, was not in my mind. I 
am used to having my attitude towards many things being 
mwunderstcod— though I do not say wilfully— by Eleanor "^ 
But I am not used to it," said he, " and it is often ii 



m 



my mind, my dear. And yet I do not see what remedv to 
suggest unless " ' 

mia. Ramsden became all attention. 

" Pray, if there is any criticism you can make with regard 
to my bearmg towards Eleanor, make it," she said. '^By 
this time, James, you ought to know how I welcome anything 
of the sort. I am, I hope, conscious of many defects of my 
own, but I am sure there are many more of which, unhappily, 
1 am unconscious. You will do me a great service by men- 
tionmg them." 

" Well, my dear, I think if perhaps you allowed a little 
more for Eleanor's youth and her great vitality. She feels 
tremendously ; she is very much alive, and that is such a 
good thing in itself that, even when it is manifested in rather 
thoughtless ways, I think we should remember what that 
thoughtlessness comes from. It comes from youth and 
eagerness." 

MxB. Ramsden looked at her husband with her black 
beady eyeffl, that resembled those of a bird. 
" I see," she said. " Thank you, James. I am not suffi- 



THE WEAKER VESSEL tS 

dently in sympathy with youth and eagerness and life. Is 
.tliatit? I want to grasp your meaning dearly. Do I under- 
stand yon nghtly ?" ' 

That was oharaoteristio of her ; she turned all that came 
-near her to cast-iron. Nothing to which she directed her 
Dund could remam of the nature of a hint or a suggestion. 
lAs with a forceps she drew the core of the matter out of the 
iteguments that clothed and qualified it. and presented it 
» you, saymg, I think this is what you mean." And 
ihough, as in this case, her conclusion was Just, if looked at 
like that, the very fact of looking at it like that falsified it 

' fJ° .T°y *^°?®* *'®^°'®' i^er husband found himself 
►resented with a truth so plainly put that it almost ceased 

be true. 

«*iu^°"l*l°°* P'** ** ^^^^ "^® *^»*' °»y dear ?" he said. 
Ihen, I have not quite understood you ?" asked his wife 

igntJy. Can you make it more plain to me ? I want so 

luoh to grasp exactly what you mean." 

Mr Ramsden thought for a moment. After all, he had 
i^t that ; but his meaning seemed different to what she 
*4 put m a ^n, so to speak, and fired back at him with 

11 s-eye precision. 

" I^j8 a qu^tion of attitude and indulgence and allowance," 

1 said. We are not all made quite in the same mould, 
la 1 am sure that Eleanor misunderstands you lust as much 

you misunderstand her. But that is the natural fault of 

ZL^?P\°'^,**^"- ^^^-^ '^^ naturally less tolerant, 
cause they have less experience. I mean, we must make 

low^ce for ^^^' ^""^ """^ ^^^^ '^^^^ ^ "^^^ «° "^''"^ 

Mrs. Ramsden leaned earnestly forward in her chair, knit- 

a^ ner long, thm fingers together. 

Ah ! I cannot wholly agree with you there. James," she 

■^«ti 1, ^ T *" 7^^^ *° I'^dg® others, yet we should 

^A IT ^ Kwu°^ ^'^ ^""^y " ^'« ^'^ °ot t^ to point out. 

ttr^rr^J^ ?T to correct, all that falls below^^the very 

IndlrSSf- •. ^^ "Ir T^ ^^«'^ *° "^^ke aUowances. oii 

.^i- /t"-- Be ye therefore perfect.' Surely that warns 

1 agamst being content with anything but the highest. I re- 

iT^wJ/?^ Preachmg about it, and I found it mSst helpful." 

feth I^i ^l^^v^ ^^?y ""d^'' » ^"«l^t electric lamp 

fcch'^n C R^'"i« machinery going on overhead. That 

ker^ h^K ^'^'^T ' y°"*^ ^^^ ^^"^ ^S^ principle and 
fergy had by use become like tense catgut incSsantly 



M THE WEAKER VESSEL 

twanged. What the s«id wm no doubt perfectly true, but it 
WM of terrible texture. Appreoi»tive m her husband was of 
her ur tirinc zeal, and devoted ae he was with all the de- 
pendenne ofan easy-going man to the extraordinary eflBoienoy 
of his wii>, he was conscious tu-usht of this toughness. 

" But a little tenderness, my dear," he said, " surely is not 
forbidden." 

" But we must be on our guard," said she, lighting a bed- 
room candle, " not to confuse tenderness with weakness." 

That was a danger that really did not much threaten her, 
for she was not troubled with either quality. 

Something in his talk with his ^nfe, or in his talk with 
Eleanor, or in the conjoined effect of the two, made Mr. 
Ramsden strangely disinclined either to finish up the Harvest 
Festival sermon, which he had to preach to-morrow eveniiu;, 
and, as he knew perfectly well, required another hour's work, 
or to go upstairs after his wife. Instead, when he went to 
the front-door to lock up as usual for the night, he strolled 
out again into the earden, with that instinctive desire for 
darkness and quiet that unconsciously possesses the mind in 
self -communing and introspective mood. The moon had set, 
but the dimmed stars in the west and the luminance of the 
sky there showed that it was still not much below the horizon. 
Against that veiled brightness the church-tower stood out 
with etched precision, but all else, sight and sound and smell 
alike, was hushed in the thick, soft darkness. The fragrance of 
the garden-beds was veiled — veiled, too, the dew-drenched 
chalices of the incense-breathing flowers, and the pulse of the 
train labouring up the steep incline to the west was muffled 
and drowsy. The mists that had lain like carded fleeces over 
the water-meadows at sunset were still stretched there, " softer 
than sleep," and to the east the lights of Bracebridge were 
blurred and diffused. With that instinct for silence that 
accompanies the dark, he stepped off the gravel path, and 
moved quietly on the lawn which ran alongside the house. 
XJpetauB a light had just sprung up in his wife's bedroom ; 
two windows farther along, Eleanor's blind showed a square 
of illumination. It was clear that Eleanor was reading in 
bed, a practice discouraged by her stepmother. But there 
were many practices of poor Nellie that were similarly treated. 
And with the thought of Eleanor, his mind, swifter than the 
wings of swallows seeking the South, was in Italy again. 
AD those who have reached middle age, and who have done 



THE WEAKER VESSEL fS 

any fmI HTing, have within them the aahtm an<i -«.i , 

pwt romuoe. never quite cold ■Jw*^ #!!«?„ i '""^^ ?* 

J the Guards, he had left T^3«« ^u "f^.a^ young soldier 
month ^North^^ Ite^^^H^f^^^^^^^^^ '«' 

eforc. leaving him coiSSrtably off for t^at^ ^^J^" 
6ven one who was alerf for «i^„ j young bachelor, 

Iken it fnr f k~ !' ^ '° '®*' *^^ before evening he had 

FnceV^th£^ss* 'i^^^^^^ r.^' *? -^- ^' «-^ 

ft) that they would fiA^T-"^ ^""""i^ ""T' ^ '^ ^^^ 
fuadim who W^o^ '*• ^"^P'^ssible. A stout capable 

inhe^'unhm^^^d^irf?^^^^^ '^' ^^^^ "^ foreigVrs! 

large of thrSen ^n^i^/J^^' ^^ '^" ^^''^d to take 
paWa t?; efe ^f' '^f \^^Sht her daughter 

^fromPosilipte^^^Vr^^^^^^^ 



M THE WEAKER VESSEL 

<tf w»nii inn-tinted akin, rad Uue-UMk ludr, d*rk wide- 
lidded oyee, and pomegrMMte mouth, ever qoiverinff with 
■milM Md roMly to break out into white-toothed Iftughter. 
while Jim lUmsden, white skinned and Uue eyed, wiUi the 
«<»^;<»opped yellow hair that was the gift o£ his fatherhood 
to Eleanor, was the complement of the other, A smile and 
a ton momo quickly led to the result that was not less than 
natural to a young man bursting with manhood and leadimr 
the outdoor sunny life, half in the sea and half on it, that 
bnngs about the perfection of physical health and vigour 
In other words, he fell gaily in love with Elisabetta. 

To do him Justice, he made a determined effort to follow 
the course that wisdom and prudence suggested, to pack his 
tnmk and turn his back at once on the rose-terraced villa 
and her who had become the spirit and essence of it ; and one 
mght, as he was sitting on the terrace beneath the velvet 
of the star-kindled sky, with Elisabetta, who had Just brought 
Jum his tray with biscuits and white wine and Nooera water, 
Imgermg, as now happened every evening, to chat with him. 
he said suddenly : 

"And after to-morrow I go back to England." 

Elisabetta was standing in the oblong of i.j^t that streamed 
from the dining-room door, which was wide open, and he 
•aw her face change and grow white. 

"The signor goes back to England ?" she said, in a voice 
that was no more than a whisper. 

Jim saw that, heard her changed voice, and, with a sudden 
fire of Joy, guessed what it meant. But for a moment more 
he clung to his resolve. 

" Yes ; it is wiser so, Elisabetta," he said. " I daren't 
•top. I •' 

Those beautiful lips suddenly parted, a great sob rose in her 
throat, and her eyes streamed. 

" Dio mio ! Dio mio !" she exclaimed. 

Then, whether he moved first to her, or she to him, neither 
ever knew. But next moment, impelled by the great in- 
stinctive and irresistible force that governs the world, they 
were flung each into the arms of the other, and she was his as 
surely as he was hers. 

The weeks went on, and now there was no more any talk 
of England, and one day late in July again Elisabetta came 
to him with tears beneath the stars. So, again disobeying, 
and this time with nobler disobedience, all that wisdom and 
prudence counselled, he married her. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 27 

uaiea a summer and autumn of ecstatic haDninesa h^r^^^ 

fWuflceiitSiipor iMlMe, of golden hair and propertT who 
Kj^i^ 1 """f "'!' "° IWMiMity of oontinuine here 

M lus wife left a station crowded with Scited rdatfo^' tZ 

e»™Unifl^ *5'''°I °J >!» ""Ok, the prettiest girl and 

fcWiSta,; t w"^ «>» month of June, became pin- 
mure jangies. ihii mother was for looking after 



28 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



£h?i^ »,?„ ^* "^l"^^' °'i^® P^*'^*' swathing it, mummy, 
fashion, hangm« charms about it, performinif Si the suDer- 

iff °5L"if ^^"I °^^«' whereas the Engllh dootorSho 
ti^^^^- ^^^"^ «^d the Enlist „^^ 3j hav^nJurof 
these thongs ; and Elisabetta cried herself sick with Xmay 
at the thought of her child being so unnaturally treatTso 
undefended against the bogies ilat every moSr Tew 'lav 
couched round the cradles of babies newly born Si tol 
{owed the difficulties about the Church to wLhSe girl shoSd 

sWertion^ThZ ^„"^»S^ r'^'^. ^'^ ^^'^ seSous con. 
^.^l.T'u T ^o"owed, too. Elisabetta's mother from 

£rj^? Sh^' K*r^ unamiounced and voluble and 
luggageJess. She waa but the vanguard of other relations 

wel houis of f^n^-;^f i^*^« months that followed. JSere 
StWhiM nn?'''^?^ happmess for both of them, when, 

Jutlii^ S."^ ^fJ^^^'- '^^ .^°^^ ^^ ^y ^^ ^ tl^« sharp, 
outlined shadow of the vmee in the pergola, and sine verv 

bir^^^on^ ^thii"^ T ^'^^r' ^'"^ to l§m,'hali to hfr,'t£ 
croInlTSttf^.t^f'''^^^J^''^' «^ ^**^i»« mothers had 
davs In^. f''^^?^? ' ^""^ *^®y ^o"^d talk over the early 
days and recapture their unqualified ecstasy Nor was there 
much effort needed ; it was Is if the million Jars a^d differ! 
rtTtW * o necessity existed between them were Ltlhe 
rmd that could so easily be peeled off the fruit that lay witl^ 

cry and SLt?.^ """"f ^'' *^^° *«*^ '^^ c JdTodd 
Sin^ f w .t i*7^ ^'''" ^'""^ ^^ s^gar, and Jim was for 
nndmg that the shade was chilly^ 

end^^ A oll^ unlooked-for incredible suddenness, came the 
^•i ^.°ff ® °^ *^° o^ ^'ho^era had appeared in Naples and 

It. She died withm twenty-four hours. v.t*ugu6 

His mother had found it incumbent on her to say what she 

nesTfhe^^ted "?f°" '' "^ T^ ^«^ ' ^°"' withTqu'al pk]^! 
ness, sue acted. She came out from England without delav 

and took charge of him and his affairs with rfirmnessS 

kmdness wholly admirable. The kindness w^ lo^hS ^he 

SiTrforSTat rTh''\'°^'f °' P^^y^« relation^ t^^Lm 
Sf^Snf 1 I ^^ v^''^^ ^.""'^ unmistakable in its meaning) i 
n«» "t^'^'f'^'^ her policy. " Non ho bisogr j di voi, e mio fiho ' 

monologues. The English mamma was too much for them 
«h« i, u^^ they could perfectly well understand her iS' 
she could not understand theirs, and, in answer to pSate 



THE WEAKEB VESSEL 29 

ad her dispersal of his wSe'/ rSaMo™ m1.^- """J^' 
>ler. th«atenad to spread, Sd iTlz^S^^iho'^^l'Z i^' 

fcs alertness for pkas,ie^ril5T W^atttrT' 
^ that there was native to him a great kindnS^Siht^ZT 

Lr (W ■ """T''" *° ^"^ Kolleston. SomeTvo v^a™ 



30 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



5!!l t 8ermon,or at any rate recuperating his powers in 
sleep, preparatory to doing so on the moiT?w, thSe7 W 
yews, so fong m point of time compared with that one vSJ 
of Southern life, seemed strangely short, and ki nSf„S?^ 

& ffif^^d'^n/'^- H«^-»«odl/cSa^o^rcSox 
m belief and industrious m practice. Vet for a little while 
this evenmg his words, and deeds, and beliefs all seemwl^ev 
m compar^on to a certain remembered fire, bloWuf to 
wT'ii^^T^V"^-^""^' insi«uficant fact tharEleLj^ 
Jw^V^ 1^* ^u^"^* ^ ^""^^^ oa tl^e church oreanZ 
that at the time had been so irritating, all the sXc^ of 
innumerable little quarrels and disagreeLnts h^ SSfun 
leaving crysta ine and golden sands behind; golden with tSl 
sparUe of ItaHan noons, crystalline with the de^^LSs 
of Italian mghts Dimly seen in the shadow of the vS^ 
trellis, or radiantly illuminated by the light from the Xn 
door at the villa waa Elisabetta. stUl shi stuHtranKer^to 
lum. but day by day irresistibly drawn closer to him %er 
sweetness her beauty, her love, was what was left him S 
her love the memory, of its incarnation Elean^. ' °^ 

vit^Ht7Sr ht%r^*\^ ^t ^"^^ °* y°"<^^' ^ t^«^e i« enough 
^e sah ^V. ^??^^ ^"^ to preserve to middle age the 
vinle salt of life There must be, that is to sav in everv 
proper young and growing creature, that lust oul^iie God^ 

Z I^tL^n^^^' *^ T^y yf^« ^ stronger thlZ^tW 
else It 18 as proper to the colt to whinny and kick uoitf 

^rif'^i . J ^ ^f P'°P^^ *° *^« carriage-horse h^^'^ 
to Its sedate brougham, and, indeed, the ca^k^h^iS 
(warranted to pass the most outrageous motor-ca^Soura 

been mid-eyed and eager in its youth, and was disused n^ 

^ lii^i^ *^5 sympathetic eye wis most alive SS 
m James Ramsden this evening, as he paced softlv on f h« 
dewy grass ^low the star-du8t!d sky, and.ls?he circle of 
completed reflection brought him round agaiiiTo K stertL^. 

Srmth'thar^' ti ^^^«r\--pade o^nThe o?^ant?K 
warmth that might almost be called congratulatorv Of 

^n^n' *^5'^f ^^ ^^ *« ^o'-k off the effiJ of Sthom 

rTactSn haJ';!irf n'^^' 'J^""^^ ^' ^^^^^^^^ wished Sat tS 
reaction had not followed quite so close on the heels nf itl 

provokmg cause he felt hiLelf sympatheticallv s^l t 
and approvmg the reaction itself/ She was yoJi^^Td he 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 31 

fom there, bat frSiZMkd of S^ri?l°t5*^ '"'°"' •"* 
^ -P„ Si^oltaneouslyt "l^th'SfVv^r^L-'JS 

> to bed ?" "*"""^' ^aa you not better come in and 
\ late. TwelyeVol"k I iSr m. /■ "^ ■"> "of"" » ™ 



CHAPTER III 

SJ**^J' *°°°^<^^« *o Mrs- Ramsden's method of obeervance, 
might be a day of cladness, but it was certauxly not a day of 
rest being passed From morning till night in a successioi of 
stienuous religious exercises, and she enjoined on others her 
hZ-2 t 'f f^l^^®*^^ ^^'^'y ^^'•^c^ wa« succeeded by a 
aZ,^an.T^^* t** ^^°^ '*^"*8e8 made their invariable 
appearance), for she, Eleanor, and Alice all taught in the 
Sunday-school at ten, while time had to be given to the 
servants to clear away and wash up, in order to attend the 
morning service at eleven. That was not over before half- 
past twelve, and a hot roast-beef lunch followed at one At 
this smce It was Sunday, the servants were excused from 

^»;'"^ur'lr**'®i*°^^'^*'*®^ °° ^^^'^ other with the efiEect 
that, while Mrs Ramsden fiercely carved the sirloin, everv- 
nt^lS tif ri^-^i husband Eleanor, and Alice-all ran into each 
l^Z w ^'* *!fu ""^ Yorkshu:e pudding, and potatoes, and the 
ShS *°f K/®f°?^ ®*°^ ministering, with an infinite 
addition of trouble to the other. In like manner they all 
changed each other's plates, and, loaded with sugar, and 
cream, and apple-tart, made fresh collisions over the second 
course. Then Eleanor would give her father his glass of 
port, while he gave her lemonade, and Alice handed coffee 
to her mother, while her mother handed milk to Alice The 
ifTf -^ul" ocean-going steamer could have been accomp- 
lished with less labour. There was a missionnshapel two mil^ 
from the house, and as soon as lunch was over Mr. Ramsden 
set off to take afternoon service there, while further varieties 
of Sunday-schools furnished occupation for the ladies of the 
household Eleanor had a class of girls, Mrs. Ramsden 
another of unwil mg labourers and gardeners, while Alice 
sang hymns m the drawing-room with gorged and shiny- 
faced infants. Tea succeeded, and at six w^ Choral Even- 
song. At eight a family, jaded and dispirited, with the 
exception of Mrs Ramsden, sat down to a cold supper at a 
table paved with lamb, and salad, and blancmange, and 

32 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 30 

keese, after which Mrs. RamsHfln r««^ *k 

tistian Year " apMopritteto th!f? H P°®°* °"* ^^ " The 

W that illustratedXevente o/tW*^' "^S? »«y other 

fmitted she regaled theTtotJ^^^Jy_Then, if time 

pves of the Sakits," and fa^lv nr^ ^^^^ out of 
r read m rotation' by "etch memCT tt % ^^T*^' *« 
hvened by a hymn, plaved bv Fi^« u ^*°*'^y' and 
^edhour-'of theWr<SS^:fnJfesS,r^^^ on the 

" been unusually fatixniini? iZ 1^' i "^T **"* ^^&^^ 
.taken place beLe4^th?'Jternonn f '*, ^^o^P'^Stioe 
- in order that justice should b^T^. Sunday-school and 
[13^. while aft«r ^!XJ^Sr^teiS!r^ '^^ \°'^ ^^ Uncle 
tched. This entailed tL r^^!,; ^^fF^ "^""^^^^ had been 
[The Christian Yew-/' wh^'Z^f^ ^/^ ^priatepoem 
tity had been dealt VirhThei^.^'m"^^ Sunday W 
h Mrs. Ramsden, and she read itS X^ * favourite 
[came to the stawa : '' "^'^^ ^^^roaty unction. 

"o„?lT '° ^'''■■' of endless SpriD^ 
One known from out the serapfi-band 

joetry." ^ ^ ^*''*- -Religion lies at the base of 

I. Ramsden gave a little sigh 

>h, dad, you silly i" 

"ght's'S^p:^."'"'' '*•«'■'*' «8ai.. and ,„ita auddenlv 

am so sorry," she saW " t i, 

're was a pie ' '^« everj-body's pardon '• 

r.?"y':/-^^«.-J we" E^„„j,. ,^a her seep- 
-rsti^ed a sudden ^nZX^^^^CSuZ 



84 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



" I am BO sorry," she said. " I have made a perfect dis- 
grace of myself. But I am rather tired." 

"I am sure you must be, dear Eleanor," said her step- 
motfcrt-, with entire conviction. " You will be wise to go to 
bed-ammediately. I will play the hymn at prayers instead 
of you. '' 

Eleanor's sudden laughter had awakened Alice, who was dis- 
creetly dozmg m a screened position. The vehemence of the 
sound startled her, and she sat up, feeling Jangled and tired 
and cross. 

" If you didn't read so late in bed, Nellie," she said in her 
usual precise tones, " you wouldn't be so tired next day." 

She did not exactly intend her mother to hear this, but 
she did not intend her not to. 

" Good-night, Eleanor," said Mrs. Ramsden. " I think you 
know my feelings about reading in bed." 

Eleanor did. 

rs "x^.^; ^4'°®' y°" ^^®*^ •" ^^® observed in a whisper, 
r-rvduily she did not intend her stepmother to hear that ; but 
Bfcs. Ramsden, though she found it necessary to wear glasses 
when reading small print by artificial light, had remarkably 
keen hearing. But she made no comment ; she only remem- 
bered. *' 

u J ? yi"/ead the last stanza again," she said, when Eleanor 
had left the room. " It is a great favourite of mine " 

Eleanor lit her candle in the hall, and went upstairs to 
her room. The day, it is true, had been amazingly fatiguing 
and tedious to her, but now that its duties were over she felt 
tired no longer. From below, as she undressed, came before 
long the sound of the small chamber-organ in the hall, given 
to the house by Mrs. Ramsden's father, and at the present 
moment bemg played in rather a woolly manner by her step- 
mother, while the shrill-voiced cook and somewhat mellower 
parlour-mAid sang " We plough the fields and scatter " for 
the second time that day. In each verse there was a high F 
which Mrs. Ramsden took the octave below, and the cook! 
miable to soar quite to those heights, sang a fine E instead. 
By the time that was over she was in bed, and, already for- 
getful of her stepmother's feelings on the subject, blissfully re- 
reading the first act of the play that had so engrossed her last 
f"8^\, *^^** ^ad no* ^een quite clear to her before was in- 
telligible enough now, but she was conscious of no feeling of 
disgust or abhorrence. The moral aspect of the play did not 
concern her, for she was utterly engrossed in its dramatic 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



JheiT tents in KepWdim S^2 t"' "."'^ *W pitohS 
be supposed to be?oimSted with r^i;*^^'' .iourneyijgf 3 

worn being rotten nuiBin rv. 7 **^*' did not redeem i* 
•nd Unol?EveI^ w^ie reH^' ^'^^^' *^« Children^^-^} 
o^er peopIe-orherjtepmS forTT ^ *^« ^^^^^ 
was quite certain about was tha?fL "Stance. All Eleanor 
Yet it was not thatX WMfe^^^^.°°*^°«°'i^estX.r 
mo^lity or in belief ; Ua? Zj^^S^^^ r'^^' emotion or 
Si, ^^® ^^'^'^ not take thr^arH.^'^''''^^<'°«^ention. 
Jjother and say it should be hL^'^^^^^ bell of 

adopt or even adapt her stenmS L5 P^"** «^e could not 
that Mrs. Ramsden^s id^ S,n??fJ^ ^2^'°°«' It was not 
future state of existenceT^ked viS J'' *^ P^^^^t life o? a 
rather that they lacked loJ^Sir"*"^' °' decision ; it wa? 
«nd of it ; while presSiT over^J^/"». f '^^ *^«'« ^« TbS 

"eS tre-d! tStiSf^^ "^^^^ ^^- H-dt5 

den^;^^^^^^^ oaricatu. of Mrs. Kan^ 

^*Xta°b'o^iV£-to4K^^^^^^^ ^- '^erlt^^ 

^d'LS*? .-^ -o-^t^ happlnSt' iT^ 2i^^^^ ^*^<^-^ 

habits of health, thrtft and 1 A **"«^i *° '^ose aroSnd he? 
«te often wiped away ^g'^i"' '5^^ ''"^ *^ough. so to speak 
place. It waThATo iu ^^^^^'.^he did not put smiles in ft • 
was here m especial that EleJ^okZoleJtZ 



li »! 



!> i 






i! 




1^ 




! , 


1 


1 


: 


( 


* 



itiiii 



'y iilillJ 



■ ■n^ ^"^maz: 



36 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



was in radical ditoord with her stepmother's. The allevi*- 
tion of distress was, of course, a very excellent work, but how 
utterly inadequate if you did not encourage happiness to grow 
where it had been ! The eradication of evil tendencies and 
nnedifying practices were equally admirable, but how barren 
was the work unless Jov flowered there instead t Indeed, 
had Eleanor put into definite words her own idea of the way 
to manage the world, she would rather have laid down as the 
prime essential the necessity of making people happy, leaving 
the evil tendencies to wither of themselves in that divine air 
and sunshine, even as mildew disappears without any eradica- 
tion at all in similar conditions. Certainly she wished people 
to be good, but it appeu^d to her a grave defect if m the 
process they lost the sense of the Joy of life. Mrs. Ramsden, 
it is true, did not debar herself or others from the enjoyment of 
beauty, for had she not caused the choir strenuously to prao- 
tise Blinkthom and Uncle Evelyn ; but the enjoyment of 
beauty, in her creed, was definitely to lead the soul to a clearer 
realization of the truths of her cast-iron religion, while to 
Eleanor beauty was beauty, and made you laugn for pleasure. 

Her meditation was here suddenly interrupted, for there 
came a tap on her door, and she had but time to blow out her 
light before her stepmother entered, with her candle con- 
siderately shaded by her hand from the bed. There seemed 
to Eleanor to be no reason why she should notify the fact that 
she was awake, and she lay still without speaking. Unfor- 
tunately, the copy of the play she had been reading still lay 
outside her bed, and that first, and subsequently the smoulder- 
ing wick of her hastily extinguished light, caught her step- 
mother's eye. Then followed what to Eleanor would have 
been a very dreadful pause if she had been aware of its true 
nature. "Mis. Ramsden broke it in her clear precise tones. 

" I am not aware what I have done, Eleanor," she said, 
" that you deceive me by pretending to be asleep. But as 
it is not my habit to find fadt or rebuke on Sunday, I will 
defer what I shall have to cay on this subject till to-morrow. 
I will only ask you first if you have been reading in bed, and, 
secondly, what it is that you have been reading. If it is some 
book of devotion, please tell me so. That would make a 
difierence !" 

Eleanor sat up in bed, angry and exasperated both at her- 
self and at the tone of this speech. 

" I have been reading in bed," she said, " and the book I 
have been reading is ' The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.' " 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



37 



;; The^»y of that name ?" aeked Mm. Ramsden. 
y^'^eZ^'^'^'''- ^"«'^«toher: have you said 
*lS?\'^-^^^ I wil, also, please. 

would have carried S? book TeZTX' ^"' stepmother 
If she had been perfectly abne ?f "^ ^i^ej^me way even 
towards it, and was Sn SI i . ^^^^ssed her real feeling 
dignity of it wl"a m«e impafreSTv'^^^^^^^ .-^f- '^' ^^^ 
ouTt process of opening tKoor wU ln?S'i''**> *^« ^^^ 
she dropped the extinimishpr ^?l ^?*^ ^^^^s occupied, 

under Canor's ?ed ^But the dJ^f^f^l'^^^^ tolled 

from Eleanor's mind oSite nn^fw ^u° ^*"«^ «o°° ^^^ 
side to these prooeSlncs but nSffk •^^'^ ^^ » ludicrous 
side which ^^tSut S?±atlo^^^^^^ 

^agedy exists in comfort! ble and qufeJ su^'*"^"^ ^'^° ' ^°' 
as m moments of violent dram? ?!!i snrroundmgs as surely 
p-aceful disclosure For thie m^^n TT ""! ^^ «^d dis- 
tion between the i^vo Z o^f aZT^r^""^^ *°d frio- 
far from getting med Z fL?! °°^*«»t occurrence, and, so 

JVo people may often ^If nl ;!l^*?®f cumulative effect. 
find in tfie othe^r a f^ST^SS. °*^«^« »e™. and each 
a«/ond to be in accorHut Ele^nr ®l*«P«'ation. and yet 
disaccord lay at the root of fur *^.*^«^ 
Stepmother, ^as she w^wd Iw^re'^^*"^"?^ ^"^^^ons. Her 
Iier as a Christian, dislik^ aLdT!; °"«? 'A^ "^«h* ^o^e 
and Eleanor, to the flowSi^ of^ff ^^^^ ^L^^"* as a girl ; 
necessarv as is siinn^iit * ^ of whose soul affection wm m 
lack of "JamTto te Wer^wS ^^r' ^-Jted^h^.;^ 
regretted, was she the oSv luT^; f ^°''' .^. '^^ ^«^ ^^d 
Wmoniousness : it dfstrSsU fn^J^^^ this constant in- 
disagreeably as it did on h!r ™1-^**^^ ?" ^^' ^^^^^^ as 
want of ease in the housT- tW« ^«' ^.^ ^d, a chronic 
it would appear, between them '""'^ incompatebility. 

n^-Xil X;Vd^i^"L?fear ^T tfT^^ -«-tions 
excuse herself for l^ertonS^'^''^^;^^^^^^^^^ 



1',: 






S8 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



turbanoe, knew, and justly enough, that it waa in part, at 
any rate, her stepmother who created the heinousness of her 
raences. Eleanor, no doubt, should not have played '* La 
i>onna e Mobile " on the church organ, or have laughed in 
the middle of the reading of " The Christian Year," or have 
read in bed, or have omitted to say her prayers ; but it waa 
Mrs. Ramsden who, by some malignant (though duty-dictated) 
alohemism, turned such offences into black crimes. She 
painted them in the colour of mortal sin, and poured out on 
them vials of denouncement and of discouraging prophecies 
'o' Eleanor's future. Affairs were not entirely comfortable. 
The scene consequent next morning upon these things waa 

E»*ched in a rather higher key than usual, for Mrs. Ramsden 
ad refreshed her memory with regard to the play she had 
found on Eleanor's counterpane, and the occasion seemed to 
warrant an unsparing vocabulary. The fact that her hus- 
band had connived at Eleanor's reading the play was un- 
uiown to her, and, with the amicable desire of saving addi- 
tional unpleasprtaess. the girl intentionally refrain^ from 
mentioning it, and therefore Eleanor, so it was announced by 
her stepmother, who got rapidly intoxicated with a draught of 
languMe that really left the Commination Service faint and 
colourless, was g'lilty of most known transgressions. She 
had no business to take the book at all (how it got into the 
library Mrs. Ramsden shuddered to inquire, but it should 
certainly not get there again), and therefore had taken what 
was not hers, and, having taken it, did not hesitate to wallow 
m matters unspeakable. She had also been guilty of gross 
irreverence in laughing at the sacred poem which was read 
aloud after dinner, and of gross disobedience in reading in bed. 
Furthermore, she had intentionally deceived MrsTRamsden 
"> pretending to be asleep when she was not, and . . . 

Eleanor had listened to this with growing indignation. 
Often her sense of humour came to her aid, and she treasured 
op the precious sentences in order to reproduce them to her- 
self afterwards by the aid of a portentous gift of mimicry 
which was hers ; but to-day her sense of humour lay com- 
pletely dormant, while increasing anger made bright her 
cheeks and eye. And at this point she interrupted, speakinff 
quite quietly. '^ ® 

" I tl\ink we have been through all the Ten Commandmenta 
now, she said. 

Mrs. Ramsden looked at her for one moment in silenoe, 
bcr cold grey eye going stale like a snake's. Then she rose. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL M 

" li^ f^ y®" *?•*'**"?? ^^ "* *<» yo*" father." she said. 
I hoped to spare him the pain of hearing aU tWs, but iou 
have made it impoesible I" * ' ^ 

fcrlwi*^^i- "^^^ ^^•^o'- " And to spare you the 
trouble of tellmg me I have deceived you ag£n, I mav sav 
that he knew perfect! v well that I waslreadSthat pUy ! 
didn't want to brin«£im into it. but if wTa^to ha?e*t*out 
with him. he would be certain to tell you." 

Mrs. Ramsden sat down again. 

". S^*.?"i*" • "^^J^^y different complexion " she beean 

frn^^J 'f-K^^ °°V. V^^ ^*"°' ^°%- " I took thcTSi 

fron the library which you want to iirfer was stealing, and I 
l«^to read it before he knew I had it. Are you not 

RiiSe*^°'' ^ ^^ '^^^ ^ spoken to like that !" said Mrs; 

Eleanor had lost her temper with all the completeness with 
which good-tempered yeople flare into their infr^uent angers 
-««.?? I be spoten to any more as you have chosen to 

JTi t T" ?^ ""l-.u ^^**^«' y°" oome with me or 
not, I shall go to my father. Before you began talking to 

""? iX°LP"y^. r"^ r'^ * fact-'''that what youiiu^ 
might bear good fruit Well, the fruit it has borne is that 
I am not going to stand it any longer. I shall go to daddv in 
any case an J tell him all you Tave said. I fhall X «k 

fc if* T,§° "^'•7 ^°? *'«'* '^^ ^® » governess. You 
have often told me I ought to be thinking of eamimr mv 
liTTng. I quite agree with you. I wish I haddone it so^er.*^ 

Mrs Ramsden was not really a bully, and a certain cowar- 
dice that possessed her at this moment could not be put 
down to that. But she had such a passion for what She 
reaUy considered to be her duty that sometimes she did not 
qmte foresee what awkward positions her duty might lead 
her into Indeed, it almost seemed that she might occa- 
sionally be mistaken in her idea of her duty. But at present, 
smce geanor marched firmly out of the door on her way U> 
her father s study, it was necessary to foUow. 

He looked up with the worried vacillation of eve that 
seized him when there was trouble between his wie and 
daughter, and laid down his pen. 

.'.' Jf^/®*"'" ^® ^"^' " ^ ^ope nothing is amiss I" 
.. Ti^n^^'^A \7^ something to tell you," said Eleanor. 
, I also, said Mrs. Ramsden. " Eleanor, with your per- 
mission. ^ *^ 



* :., 



40 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



eaa. 

' It WM I who insiated on ooming to 
•nt to. I am going to ipeak BntT 
?^ — Nf*n Mrt. lUoMden. 



she 



Eleanor shook her head. 
^ " No." she Mid. •• It 
^^^: You didn't want •„. ^mu 

No. Look here, daddy ; it was like thia 
Eleanor stated what had happened with oreat fairness 

'' !I7%^ '^^^ •*?:*!?'^ ®^*°** ^**» '^^olite accuracy. 
..m1? ♦iT y'*^ ."^"t!" *° °°"*«* °»y account in any way." 
said at the end to her stepmother: " please do so.*^ ^ 

wl»fr«h?l^*"^^*^ "°?^? ^ o""^'*- She did not like 
wliat she had said so much when Eleanor and not she sidd it 

S? ; Z**®" P?*"® * ^o*"® difficult passace for Eleanor 
Shesat down sideways on the arm of hVfat^er's chafr not 

Srtil°nT^ att^^^ -°"^- ^«* -* - 10* o^ ^' 
" And so, daddy," she said, " I want to ao awav Mamm.t 

«1« "Ind li"° ''"'' ' ^^°"^^ »" tW^g oreanSLTm? 
IrTJf 'it *u^" ''®®?'* * ^®^ good opportunity. We can't 

be much happier if I go away, and so shall I." 

•^*m tl£!i f " ^!f fe^^u"* ^^^ "h^d® o^ acidity. 

FWif .^^ t^ ^°"i"^ ^^'f ^°"^'y to add that," she said. 
*^eanor shrugged one shoulder. 

she dteerv^.^*""* ^""^^"^ ^^^' *^*° *"y*^« I <^om say." 
l^Ramsden turned to his wife 
InLtT' ^"^o"'* think you quite meant that," he said. 

poS^r d^erii^LSs- ^^'^^'^'^ '"-^^ -*- -p- 

I am d«^?L?JS*^^ *^l*' '^*^^'" «^« «aid. •• I repeat that 
L wefl M vo^ !;5°' ^°^' '^'^ "°°«x"^*« *^«^ o^ happiness 
to ZTit^Z^' ^^ P®'^*!* ^"'o- It would be difltrksina 
to me rf she did not recognize that. But she does, and I ^ 
gad. I wish both you and uer to know I am glad Othe^ 
™ It would appear that I wished her not to brhSnesV^Th 

"And there again, daddy," said Eleanor. 

Mr. Ramsdt'n fidgeted with the paper on the table All 
IS J? ^""^^7 distressing to him, but it was his nature (m 
tTri^i^' °°^^ ^^"^T *° ^h *o find some oompromke soS 
smoothmg over of an unpleasant situation, rather than fSe 
the situation as it was. fee preferred to civer tL^ Sp.^o 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 4| 

th»t they oonld not be direotly seen : he would a)w«vB orefer 

wm «^'*'i!J "• •^^S^ i* over," he said feebly, " and see if 
.torSlv^'r %*»»o»L"«>re diaputee. Thew h^ b^ " 
^^^C!.'J^1 ^ ^\,? •torm-but storm, olearthe 
^A li\^'^' , ^.^" '"«' ne^noT is sorry she read iTbed 
Sd S ElZnr' '*^A "^f ^ T •»"• »y dear, that 3l^u 

ElertionHn^ ^ '**^ '^^}^' *^ **^*" y^"' hints to be 
•jsertjp and you. my dear, probably put them rather too 

Elefinor ^ut her head on her father's shoulder, 
nn^ i*'^"^ * ^\ ?**' daddy." she said. " Mamma and I 
understand much better than you. I want to bo awav and 

!?«♦ ?• ^ ^ ?,°° W^'""^ ^ ^*"<^ to talk about it even I shall 
just ^te to Mrs. Wilkins and ask her if I may come. They 

Ze^%Sn wrtlo^g^o^"'"' '^" ^'^ '^^ ^^^^^ ^« ^'^^ 
Eleanor gave a little siah. She entirely meant to have her 
ZJ\r\ H°r l^**' '^ ^*' *« l^er father was conoSiS she 
W^ iffmVhf ^^'^ ^" T" °J! «^ '""^^ g'**'^' strength than 
"^^y, fut^ertlafsh^a^^ LI 

s??rt;poth"e?.^^"^^^^ ^'^ ^^'^^ Ve/sr[Ss;y'^ 

"I tWnk that is the best plan," she said 
Mrs. Ramsden seldom invaded the secrets of her own heart 
She was content, as a rule, to do her duty, which geSlvUv 

JKt'Jv^Th^^f?-''^'"'^- For insLcrshnnom^ 
pletely busy with aflfamj concerning the children and moth^s 

?Lk 'untS ' r^^' "^^ schoof-treats and Ba^cU 7n!^ 
so stufL xSft i ^"^ «'?'* ^^y^. ^^^« *h« interstices were 
tW*?!? with choir-practices and ordering of the household 
that there was little space in her mind for anything else It 

sTstretv't*; 'tT'r''''^^ K^ ^-«- d*^ *h^t «he 
set store by her husband^ peace of mind, which she wm 

w^^ "ZtTt^i ""' 'n *."> -g-nted'if^she or ElU^ 
were out of the house. But since nothing short of a coffin 

S2nT5!?*S5fy ""l^^T}!. *"d Eleanor/now that HS 
been finally stated, and volubly accepted it 



42 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



•he iid "^SS* ""^ T" ^**^ *^*^^y o"* o' the question," 
iTwWch m^Ti^ consider the wiadom of the ?onolu8i<ii 

not to b^^^nJS K^""*^- iL?^*y ??y *h»* I -l^o»»d like 

itiTmL^'ti A^ik **," °*y '*'^*' *>«* w^ose ever fault 
rtis^Hejnor finds it difecult to live with her family heie^ 

Cf- Ttfr?^*'°^°*l I **^ I ««d it was pSblt my 

S WW« fJ^^JL^*^^ °iy ^•'^*' ^«' I do not wish EkLor 
JO be able to accuse me of want of generosity Very weU 

8^ fl2£^ With her that she had better go away, and I am 

?m^ ln^X«^JS '> """f^ ««o^«' ?o to than S^« C 
vard^sf^J ?* *^*" P"^ ^^tends afmost to the church 
mTnt I hi^J*' ':,'^\?"l* ''°"*' °^ «« think of it as a banish- 
W !' * *^^® no doubt whatever that Mrs. WilJuns wiUtake 

Inever s^'^^htV'^r of her own accompliZTt^tSoh 
w£oh I^^ to underrat^but from my recommendaSnT 
^ to hZ^Sf * « *d^y>^«- And if ever Eleanor shoS 

fe i^ h°r nl^dfuatLn^T?' °' ^f.** *^ ^'^'^^ ^^^^ «1^« 
feel ^11^ ^^i^'^'/ ^°' °°®' whatever anybody else may 
s^d W Uck !3^^^ see her and I hopeie'l/be able ^ 

h|et tK.ti?^nifoSdt a^ *^ ^*^« ^- -•^^^ 

miSf^l^^^ «° no further. Eleanor had only to 
Sm^ ^ *?^ (irrespective of aU Eleanor had previously 
done) Mrs R«nsden accepted it, endorsed it, and welcomedit 

oiSl^Sd k"aU ?o^"* *^* ^T^' ""^'^ ^*« quite^ce«; 
SSI nff!i i' *f* ^''^^^^dy perfectly we3 knew, Mrs 
*MUMden often herself walked home in the dark. It wm 

^ewSate^L^ '^^^.l' f^^' "^ ? P/ty that she iid, " h" 
sw W 'WW„?^^i5^^?^®J"*y ^^^' ^^^ ^ overjoyed to 
XuJ t'u Hn5f*^.°°"iu '^ *^^ '•'^^oe of the bright thought 
auout the dogcart. She rose haloed with generosity. 

she saM^ "^T^JA^' ^"^ ^«^« ^ ^o a^:^&ng else," 
sne said. The house-accounts must be done afterward* 

StLl° ""^^^ I*^* ^°^, me if I am a httle late for lunch kiT^J 
quence, and do not keep anything hot for me." 

S^ ' rona^w*'^*^ represented itself to her as"^self. 
S^f ook^SnT^.^"'^.*''^ *^P^d vegetables were things 
to SL ?ffi?l^'*thTJ" rn ^Portant that her teZ 
befM^"lunMr\r *^^*^ household books should be finished 

We Jc^,?^ f^^'i ^'^ "^ ^i* *^^"^" think that it mi^ 
nave occurred to Eleanor to offer to help with the housSSld 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 4S 

boofa in which case nobody need be late for hinoh ; she 
l^^ "^r^f **^u* *^°"?^*- Very likely Ele«ior was busy 

^'J^°Sr^ ""£** "^^ ^l*""^^ ^ ^"«y •^"^ ^•« outside ti^ 
range of Mrs. Ramsden's comprehension. But that was not 
the point ; Eleanor merely did not offer help with household 
Doota, and Mrs. Ramsden firmly refused to judge her about it. 

«nS^fiu lingered with her father after Mrs. Ramsden had 
S?a t'^ .^^?f®? ^^ °^®*^^y **ie feelings that lay behind 
SfZT^®;v*'**"*'^f^ ®y®«' ^^ *ook him with gently shuflSing 
steps to the window, where in silence he fingered the bUnd- 
V^t^S T^*^ to himself in an un^nant manni 
E ventuaUy she followed him there, and put her arm within his. 

Daddy, It's reaUy best," she said. 
He nodded at her. 

^♦^Perhaps it is, Nellie," he said, " but it's rather sad if it's 

hZ^'?^' ^f^^l" *"^ she—" most awfuUy sorry. Daddy, I 
have tried, I have, mdeed, and so of course has mamma, but 

w^tol'Sr'''*'^*™ "^^ ^""^'^ ^®* ®'*' '^^ '* ^^^ everybody 

^«l.S,"i* * 8«^e™ee8, my dear !" he said. " I thought only 
yoMiff ladies who had no home ever went to be governesses. 
And! haven t m any way given my consent yet." 

i..^ V ix^®*"^' **"* y°" ^^'" said Eleanor. " Otherwise you 
ftad better stop mamma writing to Mrs. WiUdns. You see, it 
Mm t a new Idea ; we talked about it last spring, do you re- 
member, when-when things of this sort happened before." 
♦k"^*^ ® f^^. ^ silence, and Eleanor easily divined his 
tnonghts. Affection for herself, very strong and tender, she 
toew was there, and great personal regret at the prospect ol 
Jerleaving home; there was in his mind also his amotion 
tor his wife and his loyalty to her. Affection for his daughter 
made hun want to speak, but as often as he framed words for 
tfte thought that loyaltv made him dumb. He could not take 
one side without ranging himself against the other, and in 
teuth he was against neither, but supporter of both. And 
smce, tnough for divergence of temperament which he infinitely 
regretted, they were both of one mind about this, his oppori- 
tion was necessarily feeble. ^*^ 

At length Eleanor spoke. 

•'j^"jfl^ *?®*^' ^® understand each other quit*— quite." she 
said. " So it must be all right." ^^ 

He smiled at her. 
" But it is sad, Nellie," he said. 



r ■ 



CHAPTER IV 

^"sS^fif^™ ''^'"H" * °^:^P^« °f '"o^t^ later Eleanor 
r.!Sl * **?^ *^® "'^'^^ comfortable schoolroom in Mrs. Wilkins' 
mnn?».** *u® °**™®'' **^ Grosvenor Square. She hadbeTl 
ZnS "* 5.V "^"^ situation, and w2s enjoySi it quSTSn* 

^T&e Srirj^r ^'" ^^^^^^^ ^ c'^pleteTeUcity. 
JhA kIi«„ ^!^*^i, ^"*« ^^e'' severance from her father but 

nn??«^F"-^!***' ^^® ^*s conscious that she was erowinff 

!«*!-. i , "^ *" **^** makes the process of crowinir so 

^toai^cmg to the grower, whether he fa Sy of SLn 
^t ex^nnr^^'^Smg ; the world, as thfducMiM fo^nd 

no 'r^on that th«" ^^? °^,i*^" °^? ^^^^' ^^ tKeS 
A?I vSfr* *^**. t^eJ^e should not be another field beyond 

All W K* T prescribed by her who was in authority thwe 
X^ w^'not'th^el^X^ ^^^^"^ *° » chilling SuS^I; 
tSSSo I? !?»? ^ °^i? *^*"«« i* wasltcSfely philanl 
wKh^nT? W *PP«»^«d that men and women wer^S 
fmm ?w ^ ?f * "" *'''® particular mould ; any divercenoe 
m?«?J^* T"^** "'^^^^ *^at tJiere had somewhere S a 
nustake. and every mistake had to be corrected The^? 

WlieJS sluo^ f SriT"'^'^^ ''"u*" ?«y ^«<i it- Eleanor 
fS?i,*?^ J ,• , •* too, and the hammerings had been 

ISl^ K^^'^v^"^*'^?- ^^' stepmother, it is neSlesTtolL 

wi^if^" l^^'^^^^'. ^^^ ^-ther had s^rby*r^i 

d^^a^ th«w™^*°'°'®'/°8f^°«'^a^7- Then, thirty 
hS^ T' r® warm eager clay had been allowed to escane 

fl^ V„ Wn ^°'«13 u'^^P^' *°d J^ad rolled awly do^S 
(so Julcan would have considered) into an ampler en^ 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 45 

It must not be rappoaed that Eleanor indulged in this 

IStS!fl' "*' Zu- r®? f,:^*'* ?^ *^® *™*^ «* i*. ^or growing 
i^%T®u **^ of themselves at aU, but only of the d?- 
hghtful fresh vistas that swim into sight. They do not say 
•;i see fresh things," but "There are fresh things "-the 
impersonaJ note is oharMteristio of growth. Thus Eleknor. 
sittmg m her chair by the fire on this fogev November mom! 

S?VTli&"''*H?^^" W^^ ^ finishStheS^ench exS 
that had been set her was not so much conscious that she was 

enioymg hfe as that life was enjoyable. 

It was more than enjoyable ; it was ecstatic. She did not 

taow what was happening (except that Elsie, with her tongue 

put sideways through her hps, was turning easy EnffUsh 

sentences mto doubtful French), but it w^ certainlf an 

enthusiastic affair to be allowed to live. In her, at any rate, 

there was no lack of enthusiasm ; if fault was to be found 

there was too much. She bubbled and squirted to any hand 

that drew the cork. For eighteen years her cork had been 

inviolate. Now a.' things pulled at it. and she responded 

(the cork not quite drawn) m every direction. Her ^dtalitv 

5lfL?r®^? **l'''^*t' ^ ^^ °°'^^ »°d wired down, and 
though outlets had been given for its expansion, in the orifices 
of parish work and unpossibiUty of self-expansion, these were 
not the outlets which it was capable of taking. Her sten- 
mother had presented to her the outlets that she in her girlhoJd 
had found to be squu-table through ; Eleanor could not diffuse 
herself through them. v**"»oo 

It was in possibility of self-diffusion that she had so enor- 
mously gamed, >> -neans of the situation she had taken. She 
daUy wasgettinguioreand moreintouch with the world. Instead 
of bemg told that mankmd were brothers and sisters (respect- 
able mankind, that is to say), she was beginning to find outfor 
herself that they were. Hitherto she had to be historian to a 
Bunday-sohool class, and tell them about Ahasuerus. That 

ivJ^l^ (her nature being what it was) bring her in contact 
with them. But when a small rews-seller in PiccadiUy rushed 
up to her with " 'Orrib e murder, miss." she felt more akin 
to him than the boy who neatly said, "Esther, miss." when 
Ahasuerus was bemg inquired into. She met the one on com- 
mon ground, on a thing that mattered, as a horrible murder 
does matter, not on Ahasuerus-ground, which did not signify. 

This particular mcident of the " 'orrible murder " had hap- 
pened onlv an hour before, when Eleanor had taken her pupil 
for a walk, and for the moment, as she sat before the &e 



46 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



jS?t ^**T*?^ Boghdimto French, it diverted her thought. 
For herself she loved the Ahasuenu story, and the drama ind 
hnmanity of it. but what she had been obliged to teach in the 

fn^'^^lT" ''''* **^A**"* *^« °»°»«« «»erely . (iJlapham Junction 
and Putney would have taken the place of the Biblical names 
quite perfectly ; It was no question, in the Sunday-school of 
Human beings, but of the names of the human b^lrhSt 
wemed (perhaps with the impatience of youth) to bediaracter. 
wtic of her stepmother: sEe dealt not in people and joy 
but m their names, and the difference was aTweat as thit 
which hes between the mere history of Greece Snd the S 

waf iViT* ^?^.^. T* ^'^^* *»* ^^ Parthenon. 0? it 
was hke being told that there was a flower called " odonto- 
gtossum. 'and faiowing that it was an orchid, and then sudi 
denJy smelhng the warm darkness of tropical forests. ... 
This growth and expansion had begun very suddenly in 

S^'*^!*"*? **"" T^^^ ^°' i*' ^o doubt, W been thS 
compete change of environment from the admirable but 
Bhghtiy formal and limited life in the country parsonage to 
the froth and stir of town. But beyond doubt aSoshS 
was psychMy ripe for it. else the mere ch^e of en^^! 
ment would not by iteelf have produced l£e ex^oS. 
^o. there was imother feeling-perhaps the greatest^l-l 
which exerowed its force, for while Elsie had her governess 
Edward Wilkins. the son. had his tutor. And for "me 
Strang reason, a young man, even if he is quite ordinary 
—which the one m question was not^produces an extra- 
S!T^ ^^^^ ?".* y°''°8 '^^ ^^^d girl, whose life hitherto 
had been passed m practical isolation from the young males 
of her species. It is not implied that Eleanor lid never set 
^es ^ a young man before, but. entirely speaking, they h«i 
hitherto been quite excluded from her life *^^' ^"^^ ^*** 
The Pygmalion in question, who quite unwittingly up to 

Galatea to life entered the room at this moment. ClSd? 
L^^ ^ birthright to arouse interest, though the interest 
ought be one of antagonism. His good iSoks were too 
obvious to need comment, and for the most part they wSe 
god looks of the manly kind. Robustly framed, he m^S 
with appropriate vmle energy, and a face dark-eyed and 
broad-nosed earned out the general impression of manliness 
But the mouth gave pause : it was womanish in its sensitive-' 
ness. and much more than womanish in its weakness The 
rest of him apparently knew what to do with itself, but the 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



47 



moath was already terribly yielding, and might soon be 
vicious. It could, moreover, be easily conjectured that 
when it became an3rthing it would become strong in that 
which it became. At present that which it expressed was 
a weakness too amiable, perhaps, to be called a weakness at 
all ; many other strong people at least would be the better 
for a touch of it, and it manifested itself in a oharmii^ desire 
to do what anybody else wanted. Already he andEleanor 
had discovered a multitude of traits and tastes in common, 
and while it would be superfluous to say that they were 
excellen* friends, it would be untrue to imply, however 
remote]3', that the feelings of either for the other was of 
more fiery colour than that. Only, young men up till now 
had been the rarest sort of bird in Eleanor's experience. 

"Oh, are you busy?" asked this amiable young man, 
pausing on the edge of the door. 

Elsie thought she had thought of the French for " brother- 
in-law.' The interruption made her quite sure that she 
could think of it no longer. 

" Yes, we're busy, 3&. Whittaker," she said. " Oh, and. 
Miss Ramnde he ought to tell me what the French for it is, 
because I wuL -rememberingit, and now, of course, I can't." 

" French fo hat, Elsie ?" asked Eleanor. 

" Why, ' brocner-in-law.' " 

" Beau " began Harry Whittaker. 

" Frire," said Elsie. " There, I've finished. Is it about 
the Zoo ? Because I'm coming, as well as Edward." 

" Elsie, dear, it is lesson-time," remarked Eleanor. 

" Then why does he come and interrupt ?" said Elsip. 

" Mrs. Wilkins thought that as it was so foggy " began 

the youi«g man. 

" Thrai I shan't do my lessons prc^rly," said Elsie. 

" That as it was so foggy," continued Mr. Whittaker, " she 
would send us all up in the motor." 

" Then I'll do my lessons properly," said Elsie. " I 
thought something else was coming." 

"Yes, darling; you spoke much too soon," remarked 
Eleanor. 

" And if we went up now. Miss Ramsden," continued Mr. 
Whittaker, with exemplary patience, " we might all lunch 
there, and then she would drive you back to some matinee 
and let me take the children home. And if you didn't care 
to go with her " 

' I would go with mummy to the theatre," said Elsie. 



48 THE WEAKER VESSEL 

* She would take me," said Mr. Whittaker, without 
drawing breath. 

Eleanor's face had brightened at the word " theatre." 

" Oh, that would be lovely !" she said. 

" Which do you mean ?" asked Mr. Whittaker. 

Eleanor was quick as a lizard on to this. 

" Why, either," she said, still slowing with the thought of 
the theatre for herself, but equally glowing at the thought of 
pleasure for him, if he wanted it. ^' I never heard two nicer 
plans. Please, will you choose, Mr. Whittaker, which you 
would like to do ?" 

" Couldn't choose," said he. " To begin with, it is you 
to choose, and to go on with, I don't care.'^ 

" Oh, are you sure ?" asked Eleanor. 

" Quite." 

" Then I'll go with mummy to the theatre," said Elsie, to 
solve these unselfish people. " I am quite sure I care." 

" Then you'll go to the play. Miss Ramsden," said the 
young man. " You'll love it. And the motor'U be round 
in ten minutes." 

"That will be lovely," said Eleanor again. "Quick, 
Elsie ! let's get your exercise corrected, and then we will go 
and get ready. There's a new bear at the Zoo ; won't it be 
nice to see it ! Now, then, ' He would not sit down, so we 
sat down on him.' Read it out." 

Harry Whittaker still lingered at the door. 

"How frightfully dramatic!" he said. "Wouldn't it 
make a good curtain ?" 

" Ne voulant pas s'asseoir," began Elsie. " Oh, there it 
goes wrong, I think." 

" It's gone quite wrong already," said Eleanor. 

Mre. Wilkins, as may be imagined from this indicated 
position of governess and tutor in the house, was a kind 
woman. That was true, but it was true also that an obscure 
sort of snobbishness inspired some of her kindness. Her 
husband, who was intimately connected with the commoner 
sorts of crockery, was possessed of great wealth, and she 
was possessed of a flaming ambition to live the crockery 
down, and soar upwards to the skies peopled with the stars 
which she called " Them." With a certain practical sense 
not always resident in those who are otherwise clever climbers, 
she realized that stars were not to be reached bv star-gazing, 
but by putting firm ladders in their direction and walking up 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 49 

S*?n'H ^^ "^u "^^^^ ^ ?** '^®"' '^'^ ^J»»* She expected 
toftad when she did get tEere. need not concern usItW 

seemed perha™. to shine and be high with nothing else to 

l^!!th*'*''® * ^^ *"<* spacious orfet also, and reaUy 
neglected few opportunities that might lead her towwds one 
Crockeiy and t£e wealth therefromliad no orbitTt^were 

nl2il5!!i'^^* ™^ ^^. *^« ^"^^^"^ wl"ch Jed to Them She 
?h?n^^.f "^ opportunity : indeed, she took care of m*ay 
fi^hSf T^U'''^ opportunities at all. but which seemed 
fo^^^^^r ^> P^i^'^y desirable. How widely this n^ 
for opportumties swept may be judged from the fact with 

wKittake'r ''Z^'^^tf^ conceU-namely.lhlrH^jiy 
rHn«& K ^y u ^''^\' ^"^ *°*"*"7 *he «on of a Lord 
Gnnstead about whom there was little known, but even 

Iri;;?*"^ ^•*^** ^^^^ ^g'^^^*"^^ ^»« better. He waS 
SvS,?'' *'?P^"'l'°"*-''°t impecunious in the sense 

RnntS^n^ ''"* ^°'^'' *^^ ^""^b^' °^^^ gardeners, owing to 
Budget and succession duties, in order to live fatly in two 
castles, but impecunious in the sense that he lived ii a small 
SfH« " 2^i°tenham that was chiefly furnished with whisky- 
bottles which were emptied with incredible rapidity Yet 
the son of even this most undesirable old drunkard was a 
possible opportunity. Harry Whittaker, who, though tutor 
^ays came down to dinner, sometimes referred kia p^?! 
fectly natural manner to first and second cousins, most of 
whom belonged to Them, and in these days of climbi^Xre 
bv fitr'-ni^" l""? recondite delight in beii^ taken into dSmw 
by Ber son s tutor, even if there were kmchts and baronete 
present. And though Harry Whittaker was a ple^anSt^ 
It was even more delightful to explain afterwards S the 
drawmg-room who he was. both in rank and oocu^tion 
Edwards tutor the son of Lord Gnnstead." roUed richly 
on the tongue. In precisely the same way, though in mioor 
deg^. the httle famUy feud which had ikl Elfan^r to S 
Hsies governess was a species of small trump, " Daughter 
of Mr. gamsden, the vicar of Bracebridge, who married ^^ 
RoUeston's daughter." And Eleanor ^ways camedown^to 
dinner too. So far it might be supposed that Mrs. Wilkins 
was merely a fool. That was not the case, for already seveSS 
relations of her tutor had dined with her, andTSiKh un- 

Zt f ^^y}"""^^ "^^ Bracebridge. Still, the^were early 
days, for the coarse crockery still chinked around the house, 

4 



00 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



and in the interv*! she was more thoughtfully kind than * 
mere fool o«n poasiUy be. She waa not, that is to aay, kind 
fnmi an indulgent dacknees, but actively considerate of the 
taatee and indinations of those who were dependent on her, 
though she might in imaoination be so dependent on them. 
She would in an^ case have suffered quantities of small 
Iiersonal inconveniences to give Elsie's governess a good 
time, and often, before leaving the dining-room, t<4d her 
husband to be sure and pass the wine round before beginning 
his cigar, i i Mr. Whittaker liked a glass of port. In physioi3 
respects she was short of stature and capacious, and was still 
storminff the impregnable fact that her hair was turning grey. 
She made all sorts of marches and counter-marches against 
this Gibraltar of an enemy's stronghold, so that sometimes 
it seemed to be black, and occasionally verged on blue. Also, 
the outer comer of her eyes presented difficulties, and since 
she could not acquiesce in the pleasant fact of thirty-nine, 
her manoeuvres in these districts made her appear more. 
The conclusion in the minds of quite kind-minded people was 
that there must be more to conceal than was really the case. 
Yet, somehow, her little follies and absurdities were of an 
endearing nature, for, being quite harmless, they merely 
testified to her undeniable humanity. For, when all is said 
and done in the matter of high ideals, we love people, not 
because they are angels, but because they are men and 
women. 

She and Eleanor, after lunching with the children and Mr. 
Whittaker at the Zoological Gfardens, got to the theatre some 
ten minutes before the performance began, and Mrs. WiUdns 
was pleasantly voluble. 

" So here we are, Miss Ramsd^i," she said, " right in the 
middle, so as we shall see what's said and done. I'm in a 
terror always of arriving late, and not being able to understand 
what it's all about, from having missed tJ^e beginning. What 
a hinch we had, to be sure ! Sandwiches and ginger-beer, 
and nuts and buns, though I hope Mr. Whittaker went and 
got a drop of something comfortable, as I told him to, to 
settle it. But it's a treat to the children to have a lunch like 
that instead of their good food at home, and, as Elsie said, 
it's like being elephants and monkeys ourselves. And now, 
my dear, give me a programme, and let me get the names of 
the characters by heart bofore they b^^, and I shall have 
more chance of understanding it. And while I do that, you 
might take a glance round the theatre and see it there's any 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 51 

who's being Lord ComSr wKv ^ t^Mr. Louis Owy, 

•ense as to whether the Btorv wm ffSd ^ ♦ tl 5 ^H °"*^** 
natural. She onlv knflw *ihlf ♦v.^ ^ ^ ^"^ *°® development 
-ort of dra^a. ^emarck^h *i^ ^^^^'k^ *r «howecf some 

into hiiCLo^;" "'SntiJ^^,'^^''^ "^ 
D08A flho nrooJ'* II . " droadful for them ? I ann. 

it will be aU r^ht I S^ I^^Jr^^SJ^^w*^ happened, 
about the dog, too." Oomber. He was so sony 









62 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



There was an innooenoe about this that oonld not be 
sullied, a fact which Bin. WiUdna reflected in her decision to 
stop. Certainly Eleanor would wonder why they left at so 
entrancing a crisis in the drama, and so Mrs. Willons thought 
— ^not unwisely — it was far better for her to see the play, 
since such was the untamishable quality of her mind, than to 
risk the possible tarnish that her wonder why she was taken 
away misht produce. So they remained on through the 
wonderful fourth act, in which to any who was not on the 
alert for what the prude considers " horrid " a miracle of 
tenderness and human pity was unveiled. There was some- 
thing of the glory of sunset in the serene and tragic close ; 
though it M'as sad with the sorrow of inevitable things, it was 
beautiful ^lith the nobility of a great-hearted su£ferer. And 
as the lights illumined the great dark cave of the theatre 
again, Eleanor turned to Mrs. Wilkins, with overflowed eyes. 

"But how beautiful!" she said. " And— and God will 
make them understand, won't He ?" 

Then, in answer to the general thunder, the curtain drew 
up again, according to the recognized and execrable custom, 
and revealed the resuscitated hero. Eleanor looked at him 
with amazement. 

" But Lord Comber is dead !" she cried indignantly. 

Then, and not till then, did she emerge from the atmosphere 
of the play she had seen, and was aware that Mr. Louis Grey 
was standing there. 

" Oh, how happy he must be !" she said. " Just fancy 
being able to do that. I think great actors must be the 
happiest people in the world. Wasn't he splendid ?" 

It was aheady dark when they got out, unfortunately with- 
out encounter of an}' of Eleanor's step-relations, and they 
drove down the lit and crowded streets, with many blocks and 
pauses, for the fog was beginning to close in again, making 
opals of the electric lighting. As she returned to herself, 
Eleanor felt that the actual world in which she lived — she and 
Mrs. Wilkins, and her pupil, and ail those she knew and cared 
for — were far less real than the world, compressed into three 
hours, in which she had been lost and absorbed. That mimio 
world seemed to her a condensation and distillation of life ; 
she who had looked was more keenly herself then than now ; 
Mr. Louis Grey as he appeared before the updrawn curtain 
was not 80 acutely real as Lord Comber had been ; a collision 
with a mid-street island and a crashing capsize of their motor 
would be on a less vivid plane of existence than that which she 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 53 

Jjjd jiMt qaittcd ; the events of the brain were more laUent 
A!?«t;i°"'V'"** °»*"*f>Ph« that could happen to the body. 

iS, !?'^' **• ***** ^?** .'*»*' ■*«• tWng. though in a vaeUy 
^r degree ; now all she had felt then wm sublimatS^ 

Kfh^fS!"'" .^!,?,T" *"^ *«'»«»• acto" and aotreses, 
i!2 ^??T *^.u^* ^*''* *° * "^f* poignant level, and what 
i2i,STfc.^/K ****"! .T^ P*^j"« for others. The theatre 
SMmed to her the real thing : thus in a fine play finely acted 

mea. marched to its consummation. There was nothing in the 
™Hi1^ T^'-'V ^' ¥* " *^f '^Ponsibilities of life, purgK S 
Sir****!.?"'*"'^"^^-. ^ °' '^^ ^^ ^orth remembSing was 
Srh^d ;«Sf"nT**i^ *"^- ^'^'^•^Pt^d ; the moment? but 
^M of TJ^^h^V ^'^t * j^'"« °' P^"'«- There, in the truer 
Ji^in^L V ®^*''®' ^^® disconnection and interruptions were 
expuMed Tragic or comic, it went on to its crisis, and stopped, 
mni Jk^ °*^ *'*'*'® '*^* "'^ht, immeasurably excited, Iwd 
mow than once got up, witH her ideal already fou^ Sd 

SJ^^C*^ • *""^ e" .***^ "8*^*' ^^^d at herself in the big 
veT«I^h ;S;i^''' ^^ ^J""^ '^J?^'^* ^^'^ ^»«« *ith despair. 
Llf ^th f VTo^^"^^ ^^e""' ^". *^ darkne^. investing herl 
self with the charm that she could not see in the glass. For 
she could so easily imagine herself in the centre of the st^e' 
h^, J ^ cave of the house all crammed with eager earsto 

aW J^Y' *" ^u'8^* r*^ ^^' ^y^' hke glow.woLs in the 
gloom to see her. It was a pity, so she thought to herseS? 

Srhf fn^ T*if° l^"^ bul^unta again she turned up th^ 
Ught for another honest scrutiny— perhaps her face wm not 

c'^uTrcoi^ef %°^*^^ «-^^ /-"^h« ^«'*' -d^lt t'hTt she 
the ni^hfTir/""" T?*^"^ by moment in these hours of 
nn1n?i^ *• 1 ^ "^^ ^?8 uistiUed into her that final and 
quintessential emotion that marks the difference between the 

fnTn "/ *'?*/*'?• "*^t "^*^«^<« «he had known only that 
iW i*^ 1 ^^^« ""^"^ ^« °^°^°n to both alike ; now 
there was begmnmg to stir within her that instinctive keces- 

Jh« rl7«?T'° V/ ^?'°**'*'' ^^^^ «^*^^ «"t the artist from 
the rest of the art-lovmg crowd. Often-usually, indeed- 

i^rldTZS^J *Tv.\^°J* ^^P^'^^'^' *^^ ^°^ that reason the 
Zhni ?i,^®f r*^ ^*? *''*'"*« o^ »" ^ds, while those to 
wliom the absolute need for expression has not come produce 
to,^«^T ^°?' *nd again the world of art is in spate S 
torrents of work that is altogether belonging to the excited 



M 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



w»l«n of amatearkhneM. But thoae to whom the iting of 
emotioii haa come, and to whom has oome to imperative need 
for it* ezpreiMon, paM into the ranln oi matMU, bad or good. 
Bnt the wont is Aldebaran-distant from the little moon, 
•ometimes brilliant, aometimes eoUpaed of the amateur wlu> 
feeb as keenly as Leonardo, bat produoes only to fill idle hmirs 
or any empty parse. And that curious sett •oonsoious night 
that Eleanor passed, in despairing moments when she saw 
tile faithful reflection of a face that was not beautiful in the 
inexorable lookina-glass, and in recuperative moments when 
she lay in the darknew and heard the traflSo outside die into 
silence, and revive again into tired life before the late dawning 
of the November day, was the coming-of>affe, so to speak, o? 
her nature. It was as if a family lawyer had told hn how 
vast were the estates that she was bound to claim, and in the 
same breath, when she saw her pale face in the glass, warned 
her how crushing were the succession duties. Then, when the 
room began to flicker with the return of the fog-bedraggled 
li^ht of dawn, she fell from waking into a doze, and f romaoze 
into sleep, and dreamed vaguely and unvividly that she was 
standing in the centre of a huge dark stage, waiting for the 
lights to go up. Behind the wings of one side, unable to oome 
on till she gave him the cue, was Louis Grey ; behind the 
wings on the other was Harry Whittaker, also dependent on 
her speech. Somewhere in the same shrouded darkness was 
her stepmother, reading the poem in " The Christian Year " 
for the Churohmg of Women. The evasive horror of night- 
mare brooded over this farcical hash of memory, but no oraah 
and struggle of awakening succeeded. She paraed into clean, 
recuperative sleep. 

A couple of weeks passed in days that were still not quite 
routine to Eleanor, so vivid was the lapse of hours to one 
accustomed to the stagnation of Braoebridge. The same 
dajns passed to her stepmother, no doubt, wiwout any sense 
of stagnation, because the Guild of St. Mark, and the Sewing 
Bee, and the practice for Christmas carols, in which again 
the works of Uncle Evelyn were to the fore, and the resig- 
nation of a trusted churchwarden, and the fact that her 
own gardener had joined the Methodists (which was full of 
dark and unintelligible consternation), were the things that 
happened to suit her emotions. She wrote to Eleanor every 
week, describing this whirl of events, and hoping that she 
was not losing sight of the real world in the superficial gaieties 
of town. Eleanor found it difficult to satisfy Mrs. Ramsden's 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



65 



obTioiMi miigiving* in these rMpwte, And took ref age in her 
repliee by writing about the industry of Elsie, the nare of 
Westminster Abbey, and the music at St. Paul's. Elsie, also 
—this was a true though brilliant after-thought— was learains 
PMlms by heart. She learned two verses every morning, anS 
every morning said them as well as all the old verses she had 
lesnied before. But these difficult epistles did not say 
anything real about herself, nor could they possibly do so, 
since they had to be framed with regard to the recipient, 
and between recipient and sender there was nothing vital in 
common. Mrs. Ramsden, on receipt of each, read it, sighed, 
and docketed it with Eleanor's initials and the date. They 
th«i reposed in a drawer of correspondence labelled " Family.'* 
Once Eleanor had said : " Bir. WhitUker is writing a play, 
and he read me some of it. It is quite beautifully written, 
and he is going to send it to Mr. Louis Grey when it 'w finished." 
The docket on this contained the addition, " ? Mr. Whittaker." 
Eleanor's letters to her father were of a far more informing 
kind. Early in December the following made its appearance 
at Bracebridge : 

" Oh, daddy dear, I am having 8Uoh a nice time, and Mrs. 
Wilkins is as kind as she can be, and so is Mr., only, as you 
know, he is usually silent, and eats more than anybody I 
ever saw. He goes to Marienbad, you know, for a month 
every summer, and if he does that, he can go on eating till 
the next year. Aren't people funny ? But he is so kind, 
and he took me to a Queen's Hall concert the other night, Mid 
went to sleep instantly. And Elsie is tremendously quick 
at her lessons, whenever there is something to be done when 
she has finished, which there usually is. 

'• Daddy dear, isn't it ripping ? We are coming down to 
Bracebridse for Christmas, and are going to stop a month 
or so. I shall see you every day the whole time, as it will 
be holidays. And Mr. Whittaker, who is writing a quite 
serious play, is writing another sort of fairy -story play, which 
he, and Edward, and Elsie, and I are going to act. You 
must come to that, and I'm going to be the old witch, who 
bursts at the end, and then everything is \ppy. I burst off 
the stage, you know, and it's really a large paper bag, and my 
broomstick falls on to it (the stage), and so there's the end 
of me. Some parts are too pathetic, especially when I heat 
an enormous caldron to boil Elsie and Edward in, and have 
them for dinner. They are rescued Just in time by the 



56 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



hnnohbaok, who is really the fairy prince, and Mr. Whittaker, 
»o what we want is the fairy princess, and will Alice be it ? 
2r, Wi/f'y J>t«e to say, and only has to look lovely. 
Mr. Whittaker acts beautifully, too, and we're havimr re- 
hearsals in the schooboom after tea. The frightfully exoitinir 
thmg IS that Mr. Louis Grey is going to stay with us fm 
CUnstmas, and so we shall have to act before him. I hope 
^U'^u^J 8*^®k with laughter in the \»Tong plaoe, but I don^ 
think It s likely, as the pathetic parts are reaUy pathetic, and 
the funny ones quite dreadfully funny. 

" Oh, ajid how are you ? I do hope you are tremendously 
weli and happy, like me. I can't tell you how lovely it will 
be to see you again, and may we go for a walk together on 
Christmas Eve, just when it begins to get dark, so that we 
come back to the front-door when it's quite dark, and see 
the light shimng cosily through the red blinds ? We've done 
that so often on Christmas Eves. Then perhaps I might stop 
and have dinner with you that night, for I know Mrs. Wilkins 
wm allow me, if it s convenient to mamma. But please don't 
su^t It if you think she would find it a nuisance Will you 
be tremwidously clever about it, and find out what she really 
feels ? I know she would say ' Yes ' if you asked her straight, 
but I should hke it so much best if I thought she wanted me 
to come. But very likely she will be very busy that evening 
with choir-practice and all, sorts of things, and it mighta^ 
be convenient. I only want to come if it is, but if it is, I 
should just love it, especially the walk. Isn't it dramatic, 
coming out of the cold and the dark into the light through 
the red blmds and home ? Because it is home, thoujth Pm 
ever so happy. Mr. Whittaker is going to put in a scene 
about the two children coming to their home in the dark like 
that, but when the door is opened, it's the witch. It is 
almost too dreadful, but I can't help being proud, because I 
M^gested It I m making his dress— at least, some of it. 
a bv.dchback most of the time, with a dreadful false 
nose. Then when I burst, he throws off his cloak with the 
bump m It, and looks too lovely in a blue tunic and tights, 
don t they call them ? That part is what he wore once at a 
fancy-dress ball I m sewing the hump into the cloak and 
making the cloak. It's so late : I had no idea. 

" Your most loving 
,, " Nelub. 

Ai- ^S— Please tell me about Christmas Eve, and whether 
Alice will be the fairy princess. Good-night, darling daddy " 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



57 



Thiose voluminous sheets, covered with Eleanor's sprawling 
handwriting arrived a little before breakfast-time at the 
Vicarage. Mrs. Ramsden was always down firat, appearing 
punctually at a quarter-past eight, in time to see that the urn 
was boiling properly, and to sort the post, opening the daily 
paper, and auring it at the fire. She had made up a legend 
(so long ago that it had acquired the dignity of folklore) that 
her husband always liked to read the paper first, and thus, 
though she aired it, she never glanced at it. In consequence 
to read aloud to her at breakfast all the pieces that he thought 
she would like to hear about, which saved her a great deal of 
trouble, since she was beginning to find small print difBoult, 
though she could see a school-child not attending to the 
Psalms across half a mile of pews. On this particular mom- 
mg there were several important communications for her- 
self, including extra copies of Uncle Eveljm's Christmas 
carol, for the u ^ of the augmented choir, which meant that 
the choir that t xild sing more or less was swelled by many 
who could not. These extra copies were sent her free of 
charge by the Reverend the Viscount, for there were bales 
of Uncle Evelyn's compositions at his house, and he was glad 
to get rid of them for a good purpose. There was a weighty 
packet, also, containing G.F.S. (Girls' Friendly Society) 
leaflets, a picture postcard from Eleanor, with a ^' view " of 
Ludgate Hill and the dome of St. Paul's at the top ; but that 
was all. On the other hand, there was a great thick letter 
for her husband directed in Eleanor's handwriting, which 
Mrs. Ramsden could not help seeing, especially since she 
looked at it. So she was quite ready when her husband 
came down, a little later. Alice was five minutes late, and 
was promptly fined the sum of one penny, to be given to the 
poor-box, since at the Vicarage everybody was fined if late 
for breakfast, since that postponed prayers and inconvenienced 
the household. Mrs. Ramsden always paid her fine instantly 
when she was late, which occurred once in four or five years. 
Her husband paid sevenpence a week to the poor-box, and 
had alwaj^ finished his breakfast before anybody else, even 
though he read the paper aloud most of the time. 

He propped it up as usual against the toast-rack, and then 
saw his letter from Eleanor, which he opened. 

" What a dreadful hand Nellie writes !" ho said. " But 
she is BO bursting with news that the first pavajfl-aoh is alwavs 
the most Ulegrble !" r e> . j 

" Eleanor sent me a picture postcard," said Mrs, Ramsden. 



CP 



OS 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



" It WM very kind of her, since it is one of my favourite vic«¥8 
m London— St. Paul's from the bottom of Ludtrate Hill. 
It 18 coloured." , 

" Indeed, my dear ! They are all coming down for Christ- 
mas. Yes . . . yes. They are going to act a play. Eleanor 
38 TOmg to be the witch." 

He read in silence for some time. 

" And wonders whether Alice will be the fairy princess. 
Yes^ The paper, now. A new aeroplane flight from Ostend 
to Dover. That would not interest you, my dear." 

Mrs. Ramsden chipped a piece of bacon high into the air. 
And Alice came in. 

" Is the case defended, darling ?" asked Mrs. Ramsden, in 
the appointed formula. 
'' Oh no ! General sleepiness. Good mominp , dad." 
" Good-morning, Alice. I was late too. £let.3or wants to 
know if you will act the fairy princess in a play they are 
doing at Christmas." 

" That is more a question for me, dear James," said Mrs. 
Ramsden. " I should require to see the speeches Alice has 
to make first, and to know to whom they are made." 
Mr. Ramsden referred again to the letter. 
" She doesn't have to say much," he said ; " she only has 
to look lovely." 

"I suppose if Alice did not take the part that Eleanor 
would," remarked Mrs. Ramsden. ' Perhaps it would be 
kmder to Eleanor if Alice took it. If they are going to give 
a play, I am sure we all wish that it should go as weU as 
possible. I am sure I have no objection to acting in itself, 
and mdeed I once acted in a play, or rather quite a little opera 
that papa and Uncle Evelyn wrote together. It was acted 
m the Parish Room at home, and the proceeds were to go 
to the S.P.C.K. Unfortunately, when all expenses were 
paid, there was a deficit instead." 

"I hope that did not go to the S.P.C.K.," remarked her 
husband, with some levity. 

Alice opened her mouth to laugh, but changed her intention 
mto a cough. 

" I should like to act the fairy orincess, mamma," she 
said. 

" That depends, my dear. One must know a little more 
about the play first. I hope we shall see something of 
Eleanor, James. But she seems to be so much taken up 
with different pleasures that I should not be surprised if we 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



50 



Boaroely set eyes on her. Probably in contrast to all the 
gaieties going at Mrs. Wilkins' we shall seem very dull to her." 

This seemed a favourable opportunity. 

" Nellie is quite as anxious to oome as we are to see her, 
my dear," said he. " She and I will go for a walk together 
on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, as we have done for years 
past, and it would be nice, would it not, if she spent the 
evening with us ? We can send her back in the pony-oarrii^e 
after dmner." 

Mrs. Ramsden folded her napkin with an air of quiet and 
sublime resignation. 

" Of course, if you wish it, James," she said, " it shall be 
done. But if there is one evening of the year when we are 
all at our wit's end with work, it is Christmas Eve. There 
are the decorations of the church " — Mrs. Ramsden marked 
them oS on the fingers of her left hand with the bony thumb 
of her right hand. " There are the decorations for the house. 
There is the final choir-practice. There are our little family 
presents. There ir the Christmas-tree for the school-children 
to be decked. And if there is one evening in the year when 
Beringer expects to be allowed to go home and spend it with 
his w^e, that evening is the twenty-fourth of December." 

This was a little too strong even for Mr. Ramsden's peaceful 
spirit. 

" My dear, out of the three hundred and sixty-five evenings 
ia the year we use the carriage perhaps five times. Beringer 

fets home by sunset at least three hundred and sixty times, 
(ut as Christmas Eve does not seem to you suitable, I will tell 
Nellie to come some other evening." 

Mrs. Ramsden unfolded her napkin again. Figuratively 
this implied a reopening of the subject. 

" Thank you, James," she said. " I am glad you have told 
me that it was Eleanor's idea to come on Christmas Eve. I 
thought it was a suggestion of yours, and that any other 
evening would do as weU. But sooner than that Eleanor 
should think that she is not welcome whenever she suggests 
herself I would sit up the whole of the night after she hadgone 
to get everything ready. And if Beringer hopes to have his 
Christmas Eve at home, I must tell him that it will not be 
possible. He has had his Christmas Eve at home ever since 
he came to us, and I am sure he ought not to mind going out 
for once. Alice, if you have finished your breakfast, you can 

go." 
Alice got up. 



60 



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"And I should like to be the fairy princess," she remarked 
M she left the room. 

The removal of Alice was a manoeuvre. Mr. Bamsden quite 
understood that. 

" Well, my dear ?" he said, as the door closed. 

Mrs. Ramsden got up. 

" James," she said, " I fancy that you have in your mind 
some idea that you do not give words to. Pray let me know 
what it is. If it is in any way critical of my conduct or 
attitude, I ask you all the more to tell me. I can never bo 
BO busy as not to wish for every opportunity of encouragement 
m self-unprovement. Pray tell me, James." 

Mr. Ramsden gave a little sigh. It was an instinctive, not 
an mtontional, sigh, but his wife perceived it. 

'• I am afraid tJmt I worry you," she said, " but i* you have 
anvthing, as I said, on your mind, critical of me, I ask you to 

" It was only that you did not seem very cordial about 
Eleanor's coming here," he said. 

Mrs. Ramsden pursed her lips up and put her finger to her 
forehead. 

" Thank you, James," she said. " Now let us recollect. 
I began by saying that I hoped we should see a great deal of 
Eleanor, did I not ? Yes. Then I think— correct me if I 
am wrong— I think you suggested she should come here to 
dme on Christmas Eve, and I said, which was perfectly true 
that we should be very busy and that Beringer always has 
his Christmas Eve at home. Then, surely, the moment you 
told me that the suggestion was Eleanor's, did I not wekome 
It ? I meant to, anyhow. Perhaps I did not sufficiently 
convey my meaning. I am sure, indeed, that I could not 
nave, smce you tnought me lacking in cordiality. Thank 
you for teJ?' ig me. I will write to Eleanor myself ; if I cannot 
manage to squeeze it in this morning, I will certainly do so 
directly after lunch— no, I cannot then but in time to oateh the 
afternoon post. Or if I miss that I will telegraph Yes I will 
write or telegraph to Eleanor saying how delighted I am that 
she can spare us that evening, and that Beringer shall drive 
her back." 

Mr. Ramsden smiled at her, with a slight look of confusion 
and regret in his kind eyes. He felt somehow put in the 
wrong, and he did not quite know how it had happened. 

' I am sure Eleanor would be delighted if you sent her a 
line to say how welcome she would be, he said. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



•1 



Mrs. Bamsden heaved a long, intentional aigh. 

'' That is all right, then," she said. " Dear me, it is already 
half-past nine. But it was, oh, so well worth while to oleeur 
that up. I will write, or, as I say, if I cannot find ten minutes , 
I will telegraph. I quite see how important it is that Eleanor 
should feel that we are all eager to see her. And if Mrs. 
Wilkins can assure me that there is nothing in their little play 
which is undesirable, I will let Alice act the fairy princess 
without any more question. Nobody hates the carpmg and 
di itrustful attitude so much as I. And now, dear James, if 
I shall not disturb you, 1 will try over Uncle Evelyn's Christ- 
mas carol on the drawing-room piano. But if you are working 
next door, and it would distract you, I will go to my bedroom. 
I have to sing the alto part, which is not quite easy, and I 
must practise it. Should I disturb you at the drawit^-room 
piano ? I could really practise it in my bedroom quite well 
if I came down to strike a note now and then." 

" My dear, you never disturb me," said he 



CHAPTER V 

SSShT"w^ ^Sf * ^^ '^^*' '^ » wonderful tnuuparant 
SSf-»ter®''?®.™®^'°°^®«»d earth. High up ^the 

^toSf iSSt^T **• *?;? ^°^' **^« «k7' o^ tStoneL^ dove 
aDn^5*ir^ i? *^® approach both of night and morning! 
tSS^^ljtf't '^! • ^K^"^^ *>* the eSthswimmJK 
n?rthJfS!^^*f ^®!"*^^J^<^e- To east. southTand 
SiJh t£ eijlS^* ;'^^^ °^ *K * multitude of stars burned 
^u^^^^^.u^^"^ ^* ^~«' '' ^ west alone was still 
3Tn^^- ^'fu^^if"' 8°^^«* fi^' for something of sunset 

SSnd e^S^T''' that made islands there. Here on these 
K« VS5?^1,'^1!"T ^y ^^«^ "^'i unstained, reflecting 
SSf^nS t^^ f^ ' "^^^^^^ ^ » smouldering fumao^^ 
sto^rth nSL^^ ** Bracebridge fiUed the hoUow in WWch it 
tZrJ!ii^P^''*?"«««*^°°« of warmth and shelter. It was 
7m^ fr^'^ thought Eleanor as she and her faSi^t^S 
o?Se^Tw^?^??f: ^^? ^t"'' to be out in this coW a^Srity 
^d^f^,,?^ *^^ ^^^ *'^«*' especially since firXht 
t£L wTlfT**"^ '^^"^**. ^®^°°^« theifhome^oomin^ut 
W f!^T*i* * ^^ .?f ^f ^P «°°^ ^ ^«>°t of them. aEd iSey 

the VfcSr^e. ^ '^^''* ''"* "'^^^ **»« ohurchTd 

wifcto'Sf jf «» °°W««r Epicurean mood ; she was tasting 
wito gusto aU the pleasures that were heaped round her and 
w^apprecxati:.g them, wondered if brUlS sh^' w^ 

"Daddy, I think we chose right," she said " to kefin n« 
on the downs, and not walk through BraceSe OfT^u^ 
^ere are the gas-flares and the hoUy and Xw £^T 
^sto'Sd'tv^^' ^'l-i^g toy-«»^«P«. bu"; if we hS^fon^tS? 

^raiBht ^ ^Z r^,i^^ T""^'^^' ^ '^ ^' ^e «haU come 
straignt in from the cold and the emptiness, and see the liohf 
shuung through the red blinds sud^enlTwh^n J^ tamS« 
comer m the garden. And then there wi Ct^.^^f Sen f 
shftll try to help mamma with something, andth^ diS " 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



63 



Dmner will follow renuffkaUy soon after tea, my dear,'* 
remarked her father. "We hayemanMed to be extremely late." 

Eleanor gave a great contented sigh. 

" I. kno^." ■!» said, " and it has been nice. You see, if we 
had been back earlier, we should not have seen the night 
come on out of doors, which was part of the plan. I expect 
minima and Alice will have had tea, so perhaps you and I 
might have ours by the study fire. Wouldn't that be rather 
ooBj I Daddy dear, you must go first down this steep piece, 
and stomp your great big feet well into the snow, please, like 
good King Wenoeslas, and I shall step in the holes, like the 
pw. Oh, how glad I am to be going home !" 

Mr. Ramsden obligingly played the part of the King, and 
they went down the headlong path into the main road in file. 
Then, when they came on to level ground again, Eleanor took 
her father's arm. 

I, too, am glad," he said. " But, Nellie, you are very 
— , are you not, with Mrs. Wilkins ?'* 



haj^. 



^^ es, tremendously happy," said the girl, with decision, 
and interested and full of plans. But that's no reason why 
I shouldn't have a little inmost place in my heart for you, 
daddy." 

" You must tell me about the plans," said he. " And tell 
me this, too. You feel it was a good plan that you went away ?" 

Eleanor was silent for a moment. When she spoke there 
was that wonderful tenderness in her voice that in later years 
made those who heard it feel the tears rise to their eyes. 

Yes, dear," she said, " it was an excellent plan, though 
onj»— <io you remember ?— you said it was sad that I shoiSd 
think of it. But if it is sad, it is also quite natural. I belong 
to you^-oh, most tremendously ! — but then, other people 
belong to you, and . . . Daddy, will you answer me one 
little tiny question quite straight ? I know you will. Well, 
isn't it happier at home, too, although I know — oh, I know 
you miss me !— than it was before ?" 

He pressed her hand, which lay in the crook of his arm, a 
little closer to him. 

•• Yes, NeUie, it is," he said. 

" Oh, I am glad ! I hoped it was so, and I knew it must 
be. You see, mamma and I always did rub each oUier up the 
wrwig way, and I expect it was quite entirely my fault. But 
then I'm made so differently to her, more than usually differ- 
ently. I felt that for a long time before last autumn, and, 
daddy dear, I used to worry over it frightfully, beoanse it 



64 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



must have been so beastlv for yoa. And then, the moment 
after I had worried, you know, and made up my mind to be 
more careful and thoughtful, I always went and did some- 
thing perfectly dreadfuT And now will you sive me just one 
kiss, to show that everything is as right as right ?" 

She lifted up her face that was so quickly moved to sadness 
or merriment to his. The moon had risen and shone with the 
keen whiteness of dear frosty air, brightly illuminating it, 
and for the space of a moment s illusion it looked to him some- 
how like the face of his wife come back. All the gay, sensitive 
childishness was there, the eager affection, the simplicity. 
Then that moment's illusion vanished, and he saw a little 
beneath — saw the tenderness, the womanliness. He laid his 
hands on her shoulders, much moved. 

" My dearest Nell !" he said. " You don't know how dear ! 
And promise me one thing : that you will never cease coming 
back to me, in sorrow and joy alike, and trouble and pleasure. 
I think I shall always understand. God bless you, dear." 

A counle of dozen steps, taken in silence, brought them 
into the Vicarage gardens in sight of the red-glowing blinds, 
and even as they stood on the step, knocking the caked snow 
from their boots, the door was thrown brightly open by Mrs. 
Bamsden, and the plan of the cosy tea by the study fire 
VMiished into the realms of the thwarted ideas. 

" I was waiting to hear your steps," she said, " and the 
moment I heard them I rang the bell for the urn to be brought 
up. I was determined that you and £3eanor should have hot, 
fiesh tea. You are a little late, but that does not signify in 
the slightest, and I hope you have had a pleasant walk." 

" I'm afraid we're more than a little late, mamma," said 
Eleanor. 

"Pray do not think of that, Eleanor," said her step- 
mother. " I beg you will let no thought of the kind inter- 
fere with your enjoyment. To be sure Alice wanted me to 
have tea up, and said that you and your father could have 
tea in the study, so that she and I could get to work on the 
Christmas-ti'.j without waiting, but I would not hear of it. 
I was determined we should ail have tea together. Besides, I 
could not put the servants to extra trouble this evening. 
And if you wish to change your boots, you will find every- 
thing laid out from the bag you brought in your old room. 
There is a fire there. Parkins asked me if she should light 
it, and I said, ' Of courae.' " 



THE WEAKER VESSEL , 95 

Here wm thonffhtfulness, bright mad shiniiur and wel- 
comiM, and as ooTd a* the pale flame of themo?n. It wm 
indeed; aa if the moon spoke to homeless wanderers, and said 

Warm yourselves m my beams, and be quite coiifortable " 
A oouple of dry twigs burning with real fi^ would have bmn 
so much more to tEe point. And yet. though SuTSusSS 

r;^tf ;ilf"^\? *^' r'"E^ P^^^^- ^leaSor felt v^°y 
guilty that It ht no glow inher. But she tried to makS her 
voice sound warm. 

" Oh. that ia kind of you, mamma," she said. " I wiU 
run up and change my boots and be down again at once 

n^^" *" *""' ^°^^^ ^ "* ^ frSTof m^e 

Mrs. Ramsden was terribly alert 

kind's ^^r^. ^T"'- " ' """^ ""»" " ™ - 

The sentence would not finish itself, and she ran upstairs 

anythmg else, James, please tell me." 
This warmless radiance chilled Mr. Ramsden also 

said *°* ^^^' ™^ ^®*'' ^°^ ^*^® ^°"® ^^ *^**^ ^ ^<^'" ^« 
?SJ^® gave a long, aspirated sigh. 
Thank you, James," she said. " I was afraid I might 
have omitted something. And there are meringues for dS. 
A^ice remembered that. Eleanor likes themf so I omSS 
them at once. We shall have the apple-tart cold to-mS?^ 
I do not eat meringues myself." 

Jr'^^^ ^? "f.mu''® *.PPle-tarfc and meringues, dear," said 

vo^ ™,^"^- Z ^^^"^ '' ^° '^^^^^ ^^y you should not have 
your puddmg because you are so thoughtful for Eleanor " 

o„-^^ » *® 4^^°® ^^° remembered she liked merimmes." 
said Mre. Ramsden, who, if she prided herself at aU? toc^k 

SfdS^ "" *^^ ^^^^^^^ ^°°^*y *^** «*^« o<^^«" ^^ 

Mrs. Ramsden hurried away as soon as she had finished 
tea, askmc Eleanor to excuse her, and would not hear of 
tne girl helping her, 

"I shall be able to get through everything." she said, " if 

6* 



«6 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



yon will let me nm away directly aftnr dinner. I do not in 
the leaat mind sitting np and workins for an extra half-hour 
or to, and I want Cmristmas Eve to be aa great a holiday a* 
I can for everybody else. So pray, dear Eleanor, sit with yoor 
father, and make yourself quite comfortable and leisurely. 
And you must not think of me as being undi ly pressed. I 
like being occupied ; I revel in employment. One ought to be 
so thanuul, ahd I hope I am, for the opportunities to do 
things for other people. Alice likes it, too. Alice, if you will 
bring the copies of the carols, and the candles for the Christ- 
mas-tree, and the shawls for the old people, and that little box 
of toys for the children, we shall both have our hands full." 

And as she went out of the door, with her hands, to do 
her lustice, quite full, she hummed the first line of " The First 
Noel," to show that the spirit of Christmas filled her mind, 
as did the presents of Christmas her hands. 

Mr. Ramsden shuffled about the room after she had left, 
with thejparticular awkwardness that implied a disquieted 
mind. Eleanor, used to these peregrinations and covertly 
interareting them, turned an anxious face to him. 

" Wouldn't mamma let me help her ?" she asked. " Can't 
I— can't I do anything to make her feel I want to help her V* 

He shuffled silently for a while, by degrees finaing his 
matches and a pipe. Then a sudden decision came to him. 

" No, Nellie,' he said. " It is quite a good thing to take 
people at their word. We will sit here, and have a good talk. 
Now, my dear, you said you were full of plans. 1 want to 
hear all about them. I want to know all that interests you." 

Eleanor laughed. 

" Oh, daddy, it's most of it so trivial ! It is pure babble." 

"That's where you make your mistake, Nellie," said he. 
" There's nothing trivial about the people you love." 

Eleanor gave a little wriggle of appreciation, and pulled him 
down into the big basket-chair before the fire, occupying the 
arm of it. 

" Oh, daddy, you wise old man !" she said. " You always 
say the things I feel. Of course, now you say it, I 
could have told you long ago that there is nothing trivial 
if you love the person to whom it happens. I wish you would 
always be trivial when you write to me ; I want to know if 
vour pipe after breakfast tasted good, and if you enjoyed your 
lunch ; and if you felt well when you walked out afterwards ; 
and if you took off your boots when you came in because they 
were wet; and if you sat in the study or in this dreadful 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



67 



dnwfag.room. Oh dear, I don't mMn draadful at »U : but 
vou know thi. room im't vou, in the same way as the study 

\S^' 7?" ^f "^A ™"°y ^^^ odds and ends inihe 

study ; photographs. aU faded, and all sorts of bits of thtag?" 

Mr. Ramsden considered this speech, and apparently naSed 

**•» ^f *?y '**f • ^ *°*^«' implied aoquiesoenoe. ^^^ 

Its just that which I want to know about you," he 

^^arling daddy, I always write to you aU that," said 

"Yes, but you don't write what Ues behind it. Whv 

S^ wC. V • ''7- y^" V^^ *^" ^ '^« ^^^^' or tSt 
Mr. Whittaker is wntmg a play " 

" Oh. Mr. Whittaker !" said she. 

" Yes." 

Eleanor leaned a little forward, and gently rubbed h«r 
forehead on the shoulder of his coat. ^ 

" He is delightful." said Eleanor frankly. " and we reaUy 
are great fnends. It helps, doesn't it. when two people lili 
the same thmgs ? Ihe theatre, for instance. YoTsee We 

It must be to be able to hold people as an actor does ! Daddv 
have you ever seen Mi. Louis Grey act ? Mrs. WilkiM 
took me the other day to ' Wayfarers.' Oh, I'm in such a 
panic about our play, because, you see, he'U be there He 
comes to-mght, and stops a whole week. Or do you think 
he^wdl be sick of the thought of acting, and not come to our 

; My dear, I don't Imow," said her father. "I should 
toudK It was quite possible. You won't be in such a fright 

Eleanor considered this, 
faoe^*^ °o, not nearly," she said, with a somewhat fallen 

" But the fact is you would sooner be in a fright and 
have Mr. Grey there than be quite comfortable with Mr. 
Grey not there," he remarked. 

Eleanor laughed. 

" Oh, a million times sooner," she said. " Just fancy if 
Mr. Grey was amused (in the right place, of course, I mean) 

Silled Ed'SSS!'' '"^"'' '^" °*^^°" ^^ ^^ «^* '^y ^^^ 



68 



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" And Mked Blr . WhitUker to write him » pUy to do in 
town daddy; wouldn't it be lovely I Oh, you're making 
fun of me. But uwn't you to be sUly when you were«boyT 
making up the most wonderful things in your tuhxd, knowing 
they were quite Mlly reaUy, but still making them up, and 
pretending so hard that they were possible, that they beoame 
quite real to you t" 

He leaned forward, looking into the fire. Somehow. 
Eleanor s return to him, and their long walk together, had 
made him feel more himself than he had done during the 
weeks of their separation. Busy, and f uU, and happy as the 
days had been, they seemed now to him to have been crusted 

^Tf'i.'*^ *i?** ■®™® "^"®'' ■®^' ^^^^^ was his most essential 
•elf, had been confined and isolated. Now it breathed the 
air aaain and looked on the sun. 

"Ah, yes, my dear," he said. " I did a lot of oasUe- 
building, and the walls of the castle were gold and glass, and 
the fiags flew from every turret." 

" Oh, daddy, and what has happened to them ?" asked 
Eleanor, with concern in her voice, completely forgetting her 
own castles in the thought of his vanished ones. Sheknew 
instinctively that they had vanished, or but twinkled re- 
motely on a horizon from which he had travelled far. 

" My dear, only that has happened to them which always 
happens," he said. "They get beaten upon by the grey 
weather of life and the winds of time, and they get a Uttle 
dulled outside and a little draughty within. 

" Oh daddy f" said Eleanor again, with a little quaver in 
her voice. 

" No, my dear, it isn't sad," said he. " We begin to learn 
that we must build a house instead which we can live in, and 
will withstand the weather. And it is made of finer things, 
dear Nell, than those romantic and golden walls. It is made 
of faith, and patience, and love, and affection, and kindliness. 
It takes a very long time building, and it is never finished. 
But we've got to go on building just the same. Pieces fall 
down, and the slates come off ; but there are always materials 
to hand for repairing it. Whereas in the case of our castles 
we can't get more materials ; we have used them all when we 
are voung." 
Eleanor leaned forward. 

"Go on, daddy," she said. " It's getting happier. And 
can't you use up the materials of your castle in your other 
house, just for decoration V 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



e» 



.vKere they talked and 

hwirt.V iig Tuided there 

i\ nnci pr. ,' )^red on the 

' ' i pon q • ' ted down 



•• Yee, dear, if you like," said he. " Or rou may do what 
I h»ve done. In the garden of my other honae, behind the 
trees, there stands what is left of my oastle. It isn't habitable, 
bttt it stUl shines." 

" Oh, daddy, show it me some time I" said the girl. 

" Yes, dear ; you are always there, you know.'^ 

Eleanor thought for a moment with quickened breathing. 

" Is it in Italy r she asked gentV 

The two had gone into the st< 
shared the big arm-chair there <>n t]> 
only by the light of the fire that ^r'< » 
hearth. Since then the flam s <•< >[ 

into the steadfast retl shinir^ < '.')o/'i).j^ onal, »<> t . .t, though 
the fire was still genuine arcl inrruli/ <i. w./, u » demon* 
strative. Thus they spokt now, , tthj- ru>\ liu^iiter, with 
the intimacy that is chan / friati .»c '\vili,^ht talking, when 
faces are blurred and physicul pre / rur obiit^iratt'l. In that 
visual obliteration the ear is quickened, .. u* it seemed to 
Eleanor that her father's voice h.w^ n .(»r SDunried quite like 
that ; the tone was more vivid, moix- v uthfui. 

" Yes, Nell," he said ; " the ruined gold is in Italy. Ruined ! 
No, not exactly ruined, because you always walk there. And 
there walks there, too, my dear, your mother. She was a 
beautiful woman, you see, and I loved her." 

He paused a moment, and the red glow of the fire sank 
into itself. 

" It was youth," he continued ; " it was all fiery. There 

was a sort of charm, a sort of blaze I don't know how to 

say it. But that is the stuff of the golden castle, the birth- 
right of the young. Young people have only got to claim 
their golden castles, and they instantly enter into possession. 
Don't delay claiming your castles, dear Nell ; enter into them 
quickly, live, love, enjoy. Above all, love." 

The door opened, letting in a flood of yellow gaslight from 
the hall, and showing in the illuminated oblong the figure 
of Mrs. Bamsden, who spoke with the cheerful rapidity of 
a hospitable canary. Her voice grated on the tmlight of 
smouldering fire, like steel cutting into silver. 

" My dear James," she said, " why did not you ring for 
the lamp ? Parker has orders, as you know, always to bring 
a lamp up to your study when you ring after tea." 

*' Oh, Lord !" said Eleanor, quite, quite quietly, and she 
turned towards the door. Ho^r father did not even hear that 
she had spoken. Her stepmother heard that she had spoken 



70 



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^ing of exo6Ue^mAm««?^l ^ ^^^^ °n hereeS But. 
MeSy sK „orwrrto^6r* "°* ? t»^«J««t forget it^ 
now. But it oonfiri^^iiJS S!^ ^ °^ ^""^ knowledge jwt 
h»d ever thJugSfS^E W "^S^:?^ "^ T"^' •" ^* «he 
«8 could be exueofc^ fl^ Meantime, she was as chirpy 
welcome. ®^P~*^ ^«>" »nyone who had received su^J 

want. iBhoSldTau1tei.^LS*^7?"«'^yow father 
•• if I thought you fe?tLm^^! .-this was not tru<v- 
the lamp olmilg^ We Jan a]5 St f "* .^^'^ *'?"^- ^here is 
« time to dress ParW ». "^ ^^'^ **"* °^"*e« hefore it 
fire ? NoVZlr ^!ll^'' ^^ ^^^ "''»°^®d ^iss Eleanor's 
put dinSer off for f^^er'au^J^l about your Jfe. ShaU we 
Eleanor can talk to «.«? t^ ^' °* ^"^ *'°"''' J»o»e8, so that 
fun going on at ^ WiiSS'T T ^""^ ^"°^' ^*^ »" «^« 
night Te mus^tSSeTfctS ^;^? ^"""'^ ^«' ^^ ^ 
ty^EwI^ni/PT^ *^ the natural effect of tongue- 
wr?uuTgekiahtL*^''^T ^°*^« *«,quarrel witK 
which Mrs. CSer^ttSd ^rJi^ ^^l ^"«^* «°^« ^^^ 

fun. He's so pleaswit knr! ^ We have the greatest 

the play welZvS!^\^ 1 ' ' ^^ ^** °^®^®'- And he wrote 
^ P^ay we are gomg to act on Thursday. Or did I tell you 

th^i^ "nary-lSi tSf'V;^^^^ ^- «*-<l-. with 
about it, didn't you ?'^^ ^°" "^^ ^ y«" father 

witeLt^rndid^ntul^''^'""* * "^'^ °^ ^^^-^^'y P^y. with 
;; And the moral ?" asked Mrs. Ramsden brightly 

mitt^^t^'l/:,";:;^--'* «<>* -rals.- Mr'^msden per- 
She was aU eagerness. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



71 



in this pl»7 are disobedient, and are captured by the witoh. 
And no doubt the witoh— that is you, is it not, ElMnor f — 
oomes to a bad end." 

" She bursts," said Eleanor. 

Mrs. Ramsden was triumphant. 

" There vou are !" she oried. " I was sure I should find a 
moral ! I feel quite comfortable about letting Alice act in it." 

Mr. Grey did not, it is true, offer Eleanor a part in his next 
production as leading lady at a thousand pounds a night, 
nor did he instantly commission Mr. Whittaker to write 
him a play, but he laughed with great enjo3nnent at all the 
right places and appeared to be prey to keen anxiety when it 
was still doubtful whether Elsie and Edward would not be 
put to boil in the caldron which steamed visibly. The 
audience was largely juvenile, and he, as Eletuior saw, sat 
surrounded by small children, one of whom, horribly im> 
pressed by the fiendish aspect and intentions of the witoh, 
burst into a sudden roar of apprehensive terror when she 
began to polish up her meat-hook. Quick as lightning, Louis 
Grey caught up this terrified maiden, set her on his knees, and 
whispered some consoling reflection, for the howl ceased 
with the suddenness of a tnmed-off tap, and the child followed 
the further action with eager anticipation. Probably he had 
told her that the witch would soon burst, and the hunchback 
become a fairy prince. And Eleanor's delight in this involun* 
tary tribute to her own gruesome realism was merged in a 
sense of his kindness. She could see the child clasping his 
arm with both of hers, and smiling at him. 

She could spare but a moment's attention to this, but for 
that half -second she was full of gratitude to him for his quick 
stoppage of the interruption, and of a sense of warmth towttf ds 
him for his kindness to the child. From what she had seen of 
him, which was but little during the two days that he had 
been here, she had formed an idea of him as being very grave, 
much grown-up, rather severe. Yet this child instinctively 
trusted him ; he had soothed her fright, and he had done it 
quite easily. Perhaps his grave severity was but manner. 
Probably he was very kind really. 

The play came to an end in tumultuous applause, and the 
actors were recalled with every mark of popular favour. Alice, 
who had done nothing and had looked quite delicious, divided 
the honours with the fairy prince, for whom a special call of 
"Author" was reserved; Eleanor herself, as was right, was 



72 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



and had to rlH;J«^!r ^ grimaces, shook her fiat at Uiem 

which added immraLS^^*iJ v. ?*S«.*^** ^*^ * meat-hook, 
ReoaUed f^tSTwrftL^ -^ hatred m which she was held 
bag. Xh ^"tSiSd "Tndfc^ ^^S ^<* » «P«« P»Per- 
was dead. And^s^.hH '*' ««^y^ng that she reaUy 
h»^ ba^ and WM uSiw ^^t^**" P'^^ had thrown hi 
Han^r wffta W Sv^ r*' unmistaiable genuineness, 
wmgs^ain "^®** ^'^^ *« «he stepped behind the 

thLfefatei^^^^^ ^" ^« -<»• " And 

whoJe success of it ^ ^^'"'^ '° '^^"- ^ou simply made the 

^Md^dtnl^/rt^^Vh^j^^^^^^ ^-^-e. 

yon ^,Tt IZ^SLorf"^'"^" S' 't M'- Whittoker! 
•gam. JUS'tUfr?' They're alJ shouting • Author !• 

manager S^ hTown ^h^atre %TS ? '^" '^l^^ ^ ^^'^ 

" wheHhe witcTb^r^if "itS^"^^ ^^^^ "^'^•" ^^ ^^^d. 
to the caldron I shouM ivi W^^^* ^^'^^ ^^^^^ ^ a" 

^P^:^^"£te^T^.''' 'i% «-gIe-mindedne8s of her 
talkiiig to celebritir ^ ^'' philanthropy, still rather liked 

El^^o?^ ' Nbw*?^Tr;f y? r '" '^^ °^r^e<J- " Poor 
the stage. KiSS'-^*l *^" °^^ *" ^^"^ ^iews abouj 
we see there so miJv^^lTf'"'"'''*^'^^ '■ Cannot 

amusingly T I £^^Z.? ^^''''°'' ^"«^* "« "«htly and 
abou^'" ^ *^^ «™** argumeats with my*hui,band 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 73 

*. ^^°* """'^^ *^® "^^^ ^^ °®* ***®^ "* much," he said. 
She seemed to me gloriously malioioas still, when we made 
her come and bow. Indeed, I am not quite sure she has 
burst fatally." 

Bfrs. Bamsden adjusted the gamet necklace which she wore 
at parties, and which she considered quite " equal to " rubies. 
She would not have thought it right to have real rubies, smoe 
they were so valuable, and might have been sold for much, 
but garnets combined splendour with economy. 

" ^®°« Eleanor," she said, " how they hissed her ! You 
must teU her she did not really act very badly. She seemed 
to know her part." 

Louis Grey realized he was dealing with a serious person. 
I jomed m the hisses," he said. " I hissed my execration 
of vice. But here comes the witch ; I must bow my homage 
to her acting." 

Mrs. Bamsden gave a wide welcoming smile to Eleanor. 
Well, I am sure, Eleanor," she said, " you must be glad 
It IS aU over, and Mr. Grey has been saying such kind things. 
He says he enjoyed it all very much ; that you quite frightened 
mm. How hot you must have been with all that tow on your 
head ! But, as I was saying to Mr. Grey, you seemed to know 
your part very weU, and I'm sure that if I heard the prompter 
three times, that was as much as I heard at all. And you 
must not be discouraged, must she, Mr. Grey, because they 
hissed her ?" "^ 

Louis Grey made a little quick backward movement of his 
head. 

You must be encouraged because they did hiss you, Miss 
Kanwden, ' he said. " If you had not been a terrible witch 
we should not have hated 3'ou. We might have feeblv ap- 
plauded you. You were quite excellenl>-quite, quite ex- 
cellent. It is easy to see you are very fond of acting." 

Eleanor gave him a shy look of enthusiastic gratitude. 
I adore it," she said. " Oh, Mr. Grey, is it very tiresome 

to you to hear how much people admire, admire Because 

1 saw you in Wayfarers,' and . . . and it seemed so real, so 
m^h more real, I mean, than ordinary real things." 

He also looked at her gratefully, 

"I thank you very much," he said gravely. " If one can 
mske a part seem real, one has done very well." 

' And it wasn't impertinent of me to say it ?" asked the 
girl. 

He was but little taller than she, and their eyes as he looked 



74 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



W nl^l2!f*^iJ" 'j!"?*' The |n»t ma« of her gold 
ban moul^red above her face, mal^ it look as smaB as 
a ttjnrer Md the Tivaoity and excitement of her mind had 

Z^ T^^l TJ^'I^, r*T'*y ""^ expression. Pretty, it 
«o^ not be oaBed, still less beautiful, but he found hknself 
woodering i»to what it would develop when the uncertain 
and nuflty ^lalities of childhood cleared ofE it as the years 
aavanced. It was tremendously mobUe, as he had already 
seen in the i^ay ; the part she was acting had made it incredibly 
atrocious, now— and he was surprised at himself for not 

^_f.?*'2®^ anything of her already, except that she had 
wonderful hair—it seemed capable of equal vividness of 
?fiITf'' "'. °*^®^ ^^^- It was one of those faces which 

5* irom mthm. no mere picture iUuminated from without, 
and her mmd, her consciousness, that which lit it, was clearly 
of very lambent quality. And on the moment, as if to em- 
SSf!®!/^ character by contrast, Alice Joined them. She 
was stiU m her fairy princees's dress of gold and sUver, for, 
havmg assumed It at the Vicarage, it foUowed that she could 
not change it before supper, a fact which she had clearly and 
«*e»d«wtly m view from the beginning. 

.. Alice, dear, you look too lovely," said Eleanor. 
Yes, but don't crumple me," said Alice, expecting one of 
iUeanor s rather random embraces. " I came to tellyou that 

5oS^' w^.,'®***^' ™»°im»' and I am to sit at the head of the 
taWe. Will you all go in, please ? I am to come in last, 
when you are all seated, quite alone. Mrs. Wilkina thouaht 
«V° ^^ course I had to say I would." 

«' auu*" ^^r ^^^' T^^'* 7°^ feel nervous ?" said her mother, 
onaii not I come m with you ?" 

"No, thank you, mamma," said Alice quite firmly. "I 
would rather go in alone." J* * 

Later, when the guests had gone, Louis Grey stroUed down 
to the smoking-room, where he was soon joined by Harry 
Wluttaker and his host. Mr. Wilkini said somethii about 
making themselves comfortable, and proceeded without pause 
to do so himself by falling into a quiet untroubled sleep. But 
uarry 8 methods of procuring comfort were very different, and 
ne took an immense cigar and a large brandy-and-soda 

It was good of you to come to the sUly little play, Mr. 
Grey, he said. I hope it didn't bore you beyond what 
a man is meant to bear. Won't you have a brandy-and-soda. 
or whisky V j > 



!."!*;'_ji_!:— 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



75 



" No, thanks." 

He oast a glanoe at the sleeper. 

" Shan't we disturb him if we talk ?" he asked in a low voioe. 

Harry oast a brilliant oomio glance at Mr. Wilkins. 

" Rather not," he said. " Why, the witch bursting didn't 
wake him. By Jove ! wasn't she good— Miss Ramsden, I 
' mean ? I don t suppose it was anything like acting, really, 
but I thought she was excellent." 

Blr. Louis Grey swung one leg over the other. 

*' Ah, I don't agree with you there," 'jhe said. " It was 
acting— real acting. The root of the matter was there, and 
the root of the matter is conviction — sense of reality in whi^ 
[is being acted. 

Harry took a great gulp of his brandy-and-soda. 

" By Jove ! do you really mean that ?" he said. 

" Certainly I do. Why should I not ? And why do you 

"Because Miss Ramsden — ^I know she wouldn't mind my 
telling you — is tremendously keen to be an actress, and it 
would encourage her ever so much if she knew you thought 
that." 

Louis Grey leaned back in his chair and put his finger-tips 



' Ah ! Then I am not sure whether it would not be far 
wiser for me to hold my tongue," he observed. 

" Why ?" asked the young man. 

" Because it is encouraging a girl to take up a very hard 
life. Whether you succeed or not, it is hard, and the com- 
petition is immense, and the prizes are few. All the 
same " 

He paused a moment. 

" AU the same," he said, " it is the profession I chose, 
and it would be absurd in me to run it down as a profession. 
And I think, since, as I said, I believe Miss Ramsden has the 
root of it in her, she might quite well succeed. But I charge 
you not to tell her that I think that. I would sooner bet on 
rou^e et noir than on the success of any one actor, even though 
I thought he had genius. For one may be quite easily wrong 
about his having genius, and even if he has, it is most prob- 
lematical whether it will be recognized. Ability in acting 
is most useful in many other professions, but in the profession 
itself you can become almost eminent without it, or remain 
quite obscure with it. K I was married and had children, I 
would do my very utmost to make them take up any other 



n 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



FofesBion sooner than an artistic one, because in any other 
p-of«»,on you can. given you exercise patience and" d,St^ 

No amTn't T °J""*^ ^^-^ ^«' ^^^- Bu? n^r art! 
tWrd^rSf.rl^^^P^V^'T *°? ^^"^^"^ ^" »»ke you even a 
tMrd-rate artist, of whom there are too many. Bit from the 

Kes aWalr' i^'- ^^^^^^-rate artisf may bLThSe 
LTes^'Xu^a'TalT'''^ '"""""^ actor-manager, who 

.o.'^A^l^ec^^^^et^.^^^ ^' ^' = " ^^ -' <l-*« 
nSt ???**°^^ *8*^' *°^ »^ mo«th opened sliahtlv. 
SSy-an^ ±' ISd «& S^'^ *^?^" out'^nother ifS 

his"8?in'*Htf *?";" ^V^.^- " ^- WilkiM always turns in 
v^n il!? *^**' *?^ *^®« slumbers profoundly Would 

^ Mr. Grey smiled at the attractive earnestness of the young 

salT^'^Bu^f^iJl^^^I, heretical to you. does it not ?" he 
bSdv from fit- ''^^''"y *^^- ^ ^^'^'^ discourage every- 
cWaie^n^^ "P ^''^ ^.''i'f^^ profession. But afl my dl 
JhrKrL T,u' ^"^; r'^^ ««* °^»te one Jrtist 
cne less m the world. For if there is within vou It the 
vocation, whatever you like to call it. no^oS of dl- 

S^U^esatniZlT "f^/t""?- ^^ ^^^'^^ ^t dissuiion 
persuades a true sheep that he is not one " 

" What 57j«7i^«^ interesting !" remarked Whittaker. 
O^J^^f.V I- . **^® "''"O' °»erit of bemg true." said 
Grev. No artist was ever lost to the world by bSng made 

reiused. i am speaking, of course, of those who have th« 
genuine vocation. Just*' as the tru'e sailor in whose blo^ 

Ss his wi * "?:^* "^ necessary, so the true artist always 
»lte^ wLnt t t^furat^^^-An^ ^e^^^^ 

fla^ation.^^'**^'"'' '^^' "^^^^ ^'"S^*' ^^' » ^^^^^ «on- 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



77 



" By Jove !" he said again. " What ripping things voo 
say I I feel Just like that ! I hate amateurishness. And 
you really think Miss Bamsden isn't amateurish ?" 

Louis Grey laughed. 

" I'm afraid I had wandered from Miss Bamsden," he said, 
" and was talking generally. As you mention her again, I 
may sav that I thought there was very little of the amateur 
about her. She seemed — how shall I say it ? — to leave 
nothing to chanoe. She didn't nail an ugly look to her face, 
and then rap out in a really terrible voice all she had to say. 
The u^ly look was there from inside, not because she was a 
witch m the play. She was a witch, and there happened to 
be a play. Do you see the difEerenoe ? The amateur would 
think : ' Now I must look ugly, because in the play I am a 
witch.' Again, the amateur — this is what I mean by leavins 
a thing to chanoe— would think : ' I will make a face, and 
then say, " Come, my children," and it will sound all ri|;ht.' 
She di(ki't. She had grasped the fact that she was a witoh, 
and so spoke as a witch would speak the line. Dear me, I 
am talking shop in the most unrestrained manner !" 

"And I mayn't tell Miss Bamsden anything you have 
said ?" asked Harry. 

" Certainly not, please. I may be quite wrong about her, 
and, as I say, if she really means to be an actress, she will 
certainly be one. I should like, however, to say one thing 
more, Mr. Whittaker. I think the play was admirably 
written. It gave her great scope. You wrote it, did you 
not ?" 

" Yes, as far as actual writing. But Miss Bamsden sug- 
gested lots. All the red-blind business was hers. Wasn't it 
good?" 

" It certainly was. It was correctly placed, too. I told 
myself that the children were going to be safe, but all the 
time I rather distrusted it. I said to myself, ' I thought so,' 
when the witch opened the door, though I had also said to 
myself, ' Now they are all right.' It made suspense — a 
subtle sort of suspense. That is the quality that holds 
people. 

Harry Whittaker was attending now on his own account. 

" Do tell me the sort of play that you think succeeds now," 
he said. 

" The same sort of play that always did succeed — the play 
where interesting things happen, and, above all, where in- 
teresting th'rg" are going to happen. The most efEeotive 



78 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



js:?f •s",'-^ 'Kr. reSx rrS'Kr: 

refflW L:^' 'o, him«ll „ Harry f^r the ,«,„nd «m, 

"I think 1 shiu go up to bed," he said. 
«Miy glsneed at the clock 
__ By Jove ! yes, it'» late," he replied, 
aekei ^°" "^king of trying your hand at a play »" he ■ 

Hamr gave a great jubilant laugh. 

Idon ttlunkabout anything eT8e,"he said. 
WeU, make things happen, •' said Grey 

pages seemed to serve their purpose ; tiey etched dryly iiS 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



7» 



dwity two of the principal ohwaoten. But then, so it 
•track him now, his folk " sot talking," and, with admirably 
inflexible honesty he applied what he had lust heard. Frankly, 
he considered their conversation agreeable and amusing, but 
they did not advance the drama, and after a couple more 
pages of reading, it was with disgusted eyes he waded through 
what he now called their chatter. At last, in a burst of ex- 
asperation, he tore the pages across. 

*' That will make them shut up," he said, with a certain 
inexorable glee. 

The frenzy and zeal of the creator burned in him— a frenzy 
the warmth of which is not (happily for the creator) propor- 
tioned to the happiness of his creation. M^ether it u a 
masterpiece that is provoking the rapturous pangs of con- 
ception, or the most abortive of artistic infants, the weator 
is possessed by the Joy that is the immeasurable reward of 
production, and of which no subsequent critical coldness can 
rob him. The little climax to which Harry had risen early 
in the evening at the success of his piece was already far below 
him ; he climbed to a farther summit, over firm rock. I^te 
as it was, no question of sleep suggested itself to him ; it waa 
so necessary to begin rewriting his first act at once that it 
scarcely seemed a necessity : he found himself beginning it 
without even considering that he had to. But instinctively 
he lit a cigarette, and instinctively he looked round for some- 
thing to drink ; a habit to smoke and have a drink handy to be 
sipped as he worked was already half formed, though, had he 
been questioned as to whether such a habit existed, his denial 
would have been honest, for he did not know it himself. It 
no more represented itself to him as a habit, as did the fact 
that he wrote with a stylograph pen, and would have felt ill 
at ease and half attached to earth and mundane affairs if he 
had been obliged to use another. For the birth-pangs of 
artistic work, detachment from ordinary life is an essential 
condition ; the surface brain that takes note of physical con- 
ditions must be numbed and paralyzed before the inner brain 
which conceives and brings to birth can awake to its secret 
and mysterious activity. 

For a little while it was as if in the closed chambers of his 
brain there was such pent-up force of images ready for their 
materialization into words that he was automatically carried 
^ong by the flood ; tut soon, as the first pressure was relieved, 
the need for the accustomed accompaniment began to assert 
itsdi He hesitated for a word, and in the hesitation his left 



ao 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



hMd rewhed OTt to the ri«» whew hk d«« i^^^ 
•nd the conMionsiieM th*t it wm not there cauMd • m«m!?* 
twyintwruption. L-teiid of flndimt tS^oS^hTwL^SS' 
ing for he forgot the nature of itrSie loJ2itv m to^SS" 
^^ it 1 Ted. Then, lighting anoth« oiW&, he^oJ^k 
tl wi^^'^r^ I(***S? ^'^^^ Cth or t A^ 

iS^ 1*5® new topw, which had to stop " the ohatt« •• 
which he had akeady condemned to the WMte-paSer bM£t 

^thT^ort'oflSr,,*^? -"^t *^ hap^lTf^Wir^ 
Tmom^nt Sji, rcooUeoUngj what had Ix^rcW in wX™ 

tobS teSL^ iS^ f 1.!!^^**°^ *^** l^** connection seemed to hS 

«onc«B him. f„ the major pTt'^wrgiSS^a.^h.^tSte 

to"mU^^-^^^ " "■"P'y- y™ '»'" •» ™' 'o' to bee. 
His glass was still not more than half emnfi«H ^t,^ -« u 

Ef fi^«?'^^r ? g^r^ over the^ve palSetaSlTten' 
he finished it at a draught, and rose tS toke it baSkT, «.«' 
«moking-room, since he felt that it wm WtJl f!f u **^® 
importantly so. that a tumbkr fluy ,^o^ ^S^^f^SS" 
should not be found in his bedroZ The '0^^*'*^?^*°**^' 

i^o^^t ."j?n^ ^°^^^^' *^^ ^ went LTSo^^tolj: 
windows to throw them wide, and was surprised a^aUtfie 



THE WEAKER VESSEL fl 

Wi li^ fdt iMtfaotly daw. nor did he &mble for (fie letoh 

SLSlT!f*'*TiL** '"• ?^^ i*»»* W" walk wee . litUe leee 
pwwfae (hen (he normel, end his fee( inclined (o ■hafflT 
ba( probeUy (he( wee ba( (he retnK of hie spdl of woSciJi 
en e(moq>here ondeniebly smoke-leden endunven(Ue(ed 

Sl^i^J^rwl!"? ^ "^^P* **^ I*^~*»y reesoneble ex- 
plene(ion. Oer(einly he wes no( drunk, and he wen( on hie 

expedidon to re(am (he glen to (he smoking-room wi(h no 
whl^ CS5*"5*'"* in reg««d to locomo(ion (hanWe reaeonaUe 
when lielfedowm doors of sleepers had to be passed. Then 
qrnedy and cautiously re(uming, he quickly Pressed ^ 

Zl^t iL ^'^"^'"^ *^* ^ °»^d was sa(isfied wi(h the 
S Sl£; Ya ^T- ®^* ** J'"^^ "°* do to ge( into any sort 
2^lH S^*1l?^ ^^V" »»« ^ote, for, tholgh he dr6wri^ 

ms ^«^the fiieligh( seemed somehow to spin and lurSh on 



««aoeorr nsouirioN mr cnart 

(ANSI and ISO TEST CHART No. 2) 






l» 




|Z2 


= •« 


y£ 



1.8 




/APPLIED IM/OE Inc 

1653 Eost Main Str«c« 

Roch«»ler. New Yorit U609 USA 

(716) ♦82 - 0300 - Phon. 

(716) 288- 5989 -Fo» 



CHAPTER VI 



Eleanor was sitting one evening early in February by the 
fire in the schoolroom of Mrs. Wilkins' London house, enjojring 
the dusk for a few minutes rather than turn on the lights. 
Dusk suited her employment, too, for she was saying over to 
herself the slightly gruesome speeches of the Bat-Wife in 
Ibsen's " Little Eyolf," and even to herself her voice sounded 
rather creepy. In half-tones she chanted the words to herself, 
with little variations of pitch, but employing a rather high 
whining monotone. Harry Whittaker had promised to come 
and hear them over for her at four o'clock, and it was stiU a 
minute or two before the time when he entered. 

Eleanor Jumped up. 

" Oh, it is good of you, Mr. Whittaker," she said. " Are 
vou quite sure it won't bore you ? I think I've got it aU by 
heart, so will you take the book, and read the rest, and I'll 
try to come in at my cues." 

" Of course it won't bore me," said he ; " and, besides, 
according to contract, I'm going to see about boring you 
afterwards. Shan't I turn on the light ?" 

" Yes, just one for you to read by," said Eleanor. " Give 
me as much dusk as I can have. And please criticize. Bight ! 
Oh yes, here's the place ! Bita speaks, ' Come in.' " 

laeanor had retired to the far end of the room, and, putting 
her cloak which !-ay on a chair over her head, made a slow 
and dreadful entry. Her pale, small face as she came near the 
fireplace seemed suddenly old and wizened, and Harry was 
genuinely startled when he looked up at her. 

" Gosh !" he said. " Oh yes ! ' Eyolf : Auntie that must 
be her.' " 

Even in these early days of learning Eleanor had that 
wonderful gift of staying still. She gave her little curtsey, 
and then did not move again, not so much as a finger, till 
she had to sit down, and then, with shoulder bent forward and 
head bent back, she spoke her lines on that weird monotone, 
laughing, when her part so told her, still on the same note. 

82 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 83 

The very monotony made horror ; it was like some old wicked 
httle spirit talfang She had forgotten to bring a bae, out 
of wluoh the elfin dog was to be let, but she plucked the air 
so deftly with crooked fingers that Harry could almost see 
the unknottmg and loosening of the string that opened it. 
men, at the end, she tottered back into the shade of t^ farther 
Iwd-b e "^ ''°°°'' muttering " Good-bye, good-bye, a kind 

Hsary put down the book. 

" Lord ! You gave me the creeps," he said. " I feel that 
Mopseman is smelling about the room." 

; Oh I am glad !" said Eleanor, emerging again. " Do vou 
thmk I've really got hold of it at all 2" ^"you 

^^U'^Vf^l'* «®^ H^.""^ °'®'" ^^'^ ^^' " which is to the 
pomt. But why on earth do you study such gruesome thincs ? 
You aren t gruesome yourself, you know." ^^ 

She laughed. 

"That's precisely why I study them," she said. " I want 
to try to act, you see, and to act you have to get yourself 
quite out of yourself and put it into something quite difEerent. 
If 1 only learned parts with which I was in sympathy I could 
never be sure that I was not being myself and not the part. 

like a Rat-Wrt e, then I know that to some extent I have made 
tne part real to me. 

dJ h1?^'J\*^'' i'^*^h»* ^- Grey said about you when you 
did the witch said Harry forgetting the charge laid on W 
not to repeat it. He said you had the root Sf the matter, 
w^ch was the sense of the reality of what you acted " 

Eleanor stood stock-still for a moment. 
^^ Mr. Grey said that about me ?" asked she, incredulous yefc 

Hal'''butfforgt"^ '' '''^ "^ "°* ^ ''^' ''" «-^ 

i."S,', ^ ^.?^* ™^^ °^® ^^* »^out that," said Eleanor 
ch^rfuly. "But did he really say that? Areyousure^" 
(Jmtesure. 
She drew a long breath. 

sl^ri-?*''^" n%n^7^ forgiven you if you hadn't told me," 
she said. And 1 11 forgive you at once for forgetting that he 
told you not to," she added magnanimously "^n't vou 

yTno?rame1!!"''°"^"°'^- ^<i -^y dicl he v^sh 
Harry Whittaker laughed. 



84 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



" I think I've given enough away just for the present," 
he said. 

" Very well. But as long as he really said it, I don't care 
two pins about the reason why you shovildn't tell me. I'm 
quite content to suppose he thought I should get conceited. 
He was right too ; I could bm-st with conceit this moment, like 
the witch herself. And you have been good, not telling me 
for so long, and then only by accident." 

A sudden pulse of blood moved him. 

" I will tell you the reason some day," he said. 

•* But when ?" asked she. 

" That I don't know," he said. " But some day I hope to." 

It was at that moment that the great tide of mature life began 
to move. He knew quite well the day that he had spoken of as 
" some day " ; she, intimately to herself, femininely, womanly, 
knew (and shut- the knowledge up) what was the only day on 
which he could say to her what he could not say now. Friend- 
liness, and the quintessence of friendliness, which is friendship, 
already existed between them ; both had long ago accepted its 
existence, and had long met on the high plateau of intercourse 
which breathes an air too subtle and rarefied for any but 
friends. But now all that which before had been fluid and 
in solution between them , suddenly crystallized . They started 
again at that moment with a solid product evolved out of 
friendship, instead of the fluid in which they had negligently 
been swimming. Now, between them and of them was thiJs 
solid, crystalline thing, born of their friendship and quite inevit- 
ably in existence. Whatever passed between them after this 
moment of crystallization, began not from first beginnings of 
intercotu*se any more, but from the crystallization, the natural 
human product of intercourse between a boy and a girl who 
as acquaintances and friends were sympathetic to each other. 

The moment and its significance were recognized by both, 
but the pause for its recognition was but momentary, and the 
freedom of their friendliness went on again unimpeded. 

" I don't care about * some day,' " she said lightly, " If 
I want a thing at all I want it now. And as it is quite clear 
you are not going to tell me now, let us continue our pro- 
eramme. Please begin, Mr. Whittaker ; I am longing to 
know how you have rewritten your first £ict. Are you going 
to rewrite the second as well ?" 

" That's what I want to ask your opinion on," he said. 
" I'm rather afraid you will say I had better." 



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85 



The reading took some forty minutes, and at the end Eleanor 
got up quickly from her chair. 

" But I see it," she said. " I know the pople. It hap 

Smed, Of course you must rewrite the whole second act. 
ut I've got some unpleasant things to say, too." 

" Haven't you said one ?" 

" In saying you must rewrite the second act ? A thousand 
times no. I dare say I'm quite Avrong, but as you asked my 
opinion Why, Mr. Whittaker, the first act is real com- 
pared to what it was, and what the second act is. As you 
know, I liked it all immensely when you read it me first. It 
W.J always interesting and easy and lifelike. But you've 
got life into it now, which is so different from what is merely 
lifelike." ^ 

The young man looked at her a moment without repljring, 
thinking more of her than of her eulogy or of the thing 
eulogized. It gratified him that anyone should think weS 
of his work, but the special gratification here was the personal 
one that Eleanor thought well of it. 

" Tell me the unpleasant things before I burst with conceit, 
as you say you are in danger of doing," he said. 

Eleanor reached out her hand for it. 

" There are two or three pieces in it," she said, " which are 
suddenly and hopelessly flat. For instance, you open quite 
nicely, and after a few pages you get excellent, and then for 
a bit it loses all its sparkle. Yes ; here's the first place I 
mean. Up to * When the hive is empty you have to wait 
for the bees to fill it again,' it is full of life. Then it's as if you 
got terribly bored or sleepy. Not for long, though ; after a 
page of really very tiresome stuff that leads nowhere, you 
suddenly get back into the high level again. Then twice 
again you relapse, and you finish— oh, top-hole ! It was that 
you did last night, I suppose. I heard you come upstairs 
awfully late. I sat up late, too, learning Rat-Wife." 

He hesitated a moment. 

'• Did I make a frightful noise ?" he asked. 

" Well, it sounded as if you took a header on to the landing 
and threw your candlestick away," said Eleanor frankly. 

" That is exactly what T did ; I stumbled at the top step, 
thinking there wasn't another one. So I flew, and my candle- 
stick flew— everything flew." 

" Well, it was worth paying for the finish with a fall," 
said she. 

" Tell me the parts you think are flat," he said. " At least 



SQ 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



you needn't ; I know them for certain. There is the piece 
after the hive and the bees ; there ia another— turn over about 
SIX pages— when they make little conversational squibs that 
have nothing to do with anything, and a third piece towards 
the end, when tea is brought in." 

Eleanor verified the correctness of this. 
Just those," she said. " Do rewrite them. Or, do you 
know ? I think I should leave out the squib bit altogether 
■Vi®y f ^e quite nice little jokes, but they are only quite nice 
little Jokes. They might really just as well ask each other 
nddles. 

" And rewrite the other two ?" 

" Yet ; you want the other two, but not in the way you have 
got them. And then go on quick to the other acts. All of 
this that reads as if it was quickly written seems to me the 
best Oh, oh, fancy being able to Avrite a play ! If I wasn't 
80 pleased that you can I should be consumed with jealousy. 
And whom will you send it to ? Do try Mr. Grey, anyhow. I 
can t imagine him not wanting to act it, if the rest is as 

food as what you have done. Just fancy if he did ! It would 
e so good that it must come true." 

" That is a wildly optimistic version." 

"No, it's a carefully optimistic version. I think ii you 
thoroughly expect the nicest possible things to happen, you 
encourage them to. Certainly the opposite holds good : if 
you expect disaster, you invite it. " 

He got up. 

.''By Jove, Miss Ramsden, you do buck a person up !" he 
said. • I was frightfully depressed about the play this 
mommg ; it seemed to me all flat and stupid, and I thought 
you would think it so." * 

'« T<?u* ^* ^O'^d'i'* have mattered what I thought," said she. 

If I had thought it bad, you would merely have had to say 
to yourself, ' She doesn't know anything about it.' " 

" It would have mattered very much," said he. 

Elsie came in soon after, with a belated task concerning 
the dates of English kings to finish, and Harry went to his 
room to work for an hour before dinner. It was easy to erase 
the passage of squibs, but when he came lo trying to rewrite 
the first section condemned by Eleanor, he found, as had 
several times before happened, that his brain was altogether 
empty of invention. iSy as he would, he could not capture 
the mood from which invention spring, and already he guessed 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



the reason for it. For there was 



87 



more than could be ao- 
connted for by coinoidenoe in the history of the dull passages. 
The first one, after the simile of the hive and the bees, 
represented a week of laborious work during the Christmas 
hcuidays, following on that inspired night when effori was so 
easy and result so excellent. During that week he had 
deliberately and of set purpose worked either in the morning, 
or, if at night, without the fiery brain-spur of alcohol. The 
effort had been admirable and worthy oi praise ; for he had 
been quite aware on the morning following his successful 
night that he had drunk, to say the least of it, freely, and he 
had determined, fully conscious for the first time of incipient 
habit, to break himself. Then, weakly and unconvincedly 
assuring himself that a week's abstention had broken a habit 
that was really an affair of not more than seven nights, he 
had allowed lumself no more than a reasonable liberality in 
the matter of spirits on the two succeeding evenings, with the 
effect that his work went Joyously forward again. Twice 
again he had enjoined on himself the renewed habit of ab- 
stention, and Eleanor had without pause put her acute finger 
on those two bits of work and condemned them. They were, 
though one contained some " nice little jokes," utterly un- 
creative, uninventive, and even those " nice little jokes," as 
he well remembered, were the result of no airy juggling but 
heavy ponderous industry. There was a deduction that oould 
not but be drawn : whatever was the constructive elf that 
lurked in his brain, it came out of its cave most readily when 
the fumes of spirits mounted there. Otherwise— so, at any 
rate, was indicated by these last months' experiments in the 
conditions of invention — it lay drowsily inaccessible, and for 
practical purpose unproductive. There lay the irritating 
circumstance : the little elf in all probability was ever full of 
invention and fantasy, but though he, Harry Whittaker, was 
the master amd owner of the little elf and his inventions, he 
could not get them at will. It was like having a rabbit- 
warren on his estate ; the estate was his, the rabbits were his ; 
but they had to be ferreted for (at least, that was the apparent 
moral of this history) and the ferrets, he was afraid, were rather 
dangerous animals to let loose. They might attack him in 
his own house some day, and not confine their operations to 
the rabbit-warren. 

There is a cant phrase, often heard, but, like most cant 
phrases, essentially meaningless, which speaks of the turning- 
point of a life. There is no such turning-point, for the reason. 






88 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



that every moment in our Uvea is, if we choose it so to be 
^d our wUl IS not completely atrophied, a tZL^j^iut of a 
kmd. Yet, m spite of the frequency of the chdiS^we are 
continually makLg, final decisions, irrevocIweTnd neve? 
af rLT ^^^^ V^^ '^"'^' ^'^ ^ith the strong^t of uJ 
^d ,S«n iT"*^"^*"; J^^in^ ^''''y ^«« »«t stroSg at all. 
di^itl ntfH"^^ V^' ^'■"'^ evidence, in Eleanor's^orreot 
dZ h« rnLJ* '^''''^'^rf "«?«•• ^hieh his work was welJ 
aone, he made, as most of us do, a compromise. He deter. 

LwedT^hl 1 ^°°l''°'^'u%' ^' >«^ "^«^t'« achievement 
takrth;f^rrJf?.? thorough feireting to-night. He would 
hltlr,. '®"!*'.«« *« «P«ak, and the soda up to his room when 
he ClTiT/.^f ^"""^ ^^*^ ^^« f«"«t'« assistance tiU 
wo^ Z?« n *^^ ^t"^^ P^'^fS"" ^ *^« fi^«t a«t- Then he 
industrf !n^ ''^ '"'^ surrenders any more, but by sheer 
the o^ ari "fTK^'i?"*^^ his inventive powers out into 
wouKih r^ f his brain. They were liis, after all : he 
bS? 1^?.1?* "^ f^."" *>t°^ ^ ^'°^^ q'^ietly and normally 

voLn^f)^t^^T ^?-'''^^\' \^"« *" *h« atmosphere and 
poise of this first act was fresh and vivid, it was surelv a 

Bomid economy of force to ferret it out, and thuXve done 

and have done satisfactorily, with an opening^t that 

promised so weU. Besides, so he hastened to tfu^LseS 

tZl r^otfishr'T. "^ r*^« ^"^'^^ ' -i^h IrunSZeS^ 
«^S I «°**'^^ f t"P^d»ty, which was the very opposite of the 
mood he wished to capture. He needed and defSed no more 
i^bv a r^.S"' °^ ^^^^^^ which should give to his powers! 
Tl,„« oi T^*^ razor-stroppmg, their keenest finest edge 
Thus, already, as the reader perceives, at the moment of 
i^lveTvt^T? "^d«"»J«dly he ^teAded to caTry out h2 
r^olve m the future, he had discovered an idea-namelv 

i^tirwouM? '"'^ "^' '^' T^ ^PP°«^*« fr«°^ druTkel' 
BuSlde? B,^ V,l 75 ^' f "" ^'f,^^''* '"^^^^ ^^^ «°°i« future 
sn^n^fr * uH'^'f ''*'* actually contemplate some future 
S .i /r ^"^ ,^^^ S''*^^^ ^"^elf a surrender for the 
night, and the weak man, full of resolves, which is a common 
type, and to which he undoubtedly belonged, seldoml^S 
beyond the most immediate indulgence 

A pessimistic proverb teUs us that the road to hell is paved 
with good resolutions, by which we must suppose is Sa 
very different proposition-namely, that the road to that 
si too TrtT^ '?f broken frai'ments of thoselntentions 
feo, too, for that matter, is the road to heaven, since there 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



89 



% 



WM never yet a sarnt who did not constantly and consistently 
laii m the carrying out of his intentions. But the truer 
apnonsm would be to say that the road to the less desirable 
ivS JI**?*^!^ ^^'^ «°^ resolutions made with reservations. 
i«« ^"\ 'reader of the most precipitous downward path, so 
long as he knows it is downward, seldom abandons the luxury 
oi decent resolves ; he only grants himself larger reservations. 
A pad habit seems at first to have so Uttle hold on the prac- 
l^f^V ^e.,t«"8 himself, and with justice, that he can 
easily break it, and that on Tuesday next, or at the latest on 
Wednesday, he will have no more trifling with it. Very 
iiKeiy, too, on the Tuesday in question he puts his resolve 
mto practice, with the effect that Wednesday also, and 
inursdav, see him blameless in regard to it. Then on Friday 
ne sees how- entu^ly he is master of himself, tells a drowsy 
conscience that he has been disquieted in vain, and slips round 
Dy tne back-door, so to speak, over the threshold of habit again. 

It was thus with Harry Whittaker during the weeks that 
loiiowed. On this first night, when he put the ferrets in to 
mend the lame passages in his first act, the rabbits bolted 
with glorious swiftness, and each idea, as it emerged, was 
bowled over by some weU-aimed, clear-cut phrase, shot 
through the head. It mattered nothing at all to him that, 
as the hours went by, recorded by the sipping and replenish- 

"^^ jji J ^ ' *^* ^^ °"^'' senses got more and more 
muddled. Once or twice, when he closed his eyes, thinking 
?V.,f°^® '"™ o^ sentence that should be both brief and 
intelhgible, he found that, when he opened them again, the 
lights on his table swam and dived before his eyes, or that 
It required a conscious effort to shape the letters of the words 
he wrote. Sometimes one would be completely illegible, 
and he had to rewrite it, carefully tracing character after 
character. But behind this bewilderment and confusion of 
surface-sense and manual act there lay a shining precision of 
thought. The ideas stood there like rows of flowers in a 
magical garden, dewy and fresh, full-blown for the gathering. 
With mornmg came the penalties of the night, but it was 
absurd to weigh so slight physical discomforts against the 
harvest that was definitely gathered, for even the headache 
and thu-st almost vanished in the briskness and normal vigour 
that a cold plunge and a cup of hot tea restored to him. As 
he dressed he read over wh^tt he had written, puzzling some- 
times over a scrawl that was almost illegible, but rejoicing 



•0 THE WEAKER VESSEL 

At the vividneu of that whioh the ill-niMtered hand had 
written. Nevertheless, the thought of having sat and 
drunk himself into that physical sottishness was odious and 
disgustoig ; but from to-day his resolution was to be im- 
pregnable. He would forge by patient industry the key 
that opened and then wound up that secret mechanism of 
nis brain, to whioh it appeared that alcohol had so ready 
access. He would tame the rabbits of his warren, so that 
they came out to his whistling, without being viciously 
*j®c<»d by a brute, red-eyed and treacherous. And even if 
the physical effect after a single night of exoetm seemed after 
«leep and cold water so small and negligible, he knew that 
the repetition of such nights was degrading and immoral. 
It was thus, not in any way otherwise, that the drunkard 
entered on the career that led to utter wreckage, moral and 
physical alike. He knew that well, and, tlunking of his 
lather, with his bloated face and shaking hands, he knew how 
complete the wreck could be. It required the infinite patience 
and the endless mercy of God to tell if there was anything 
that could be saved from it. 

For ten days his intention was confirmed in fact, and every 
evenmg after his not very onerous tutorial duties were over, 
he sat, pen in hand, without abatement of his determination 
to use no spur except that of his own desire. Indeed, this 
manful cudgelling of his brain was not unrewarded, for the 
drama to be developed in this second act was ahready minutely 
planned, and the characterization of his puppets so keenly 
etched and engraved in his first act that they could but 
move within narrow limits. And though the work was slow 
and heavy, there was a stimulus to urge him on, which every 
day grew more potent. Weeks ago he had known that he 
himself was getting nearer, by the pull of some irresistible 
magnet, to Eleanor. Now it seemed that she too was 
getting nearer him, not only by virtue of his own advance, 
but by voluntary movement on her part. Her constant 
friendliness had ardour and eagerness in it ; without com- 
placency he could not help knowing that she was not the 
only magnet, for if she drew, she was no less drawn. Herem 
lay the especial stimulus, for, since his heart desired her, it 
was by success only in some wage-earning ind'^istry that he 
could hope to attain her. Such, perhaps, ideal both to him 
in his intellectual ambitions and no less ideal to her tastes, 
lay between pen and paper. He had that belief in his own 
powers, which, though it is pathetw in those who over- 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



n 



rate them, ia entirely proper to such as hare the equipment 
for Buooess in them. Thus the desire to write a play that 
would be acted became overwhelming, and the neetf of doing 
80 imperative. Yet, even with this to incite him, Wr •'v igress 
was not only slow, but also uninspired. 

He had read the amended first act to Elea-or, \»..o had 
applauded from heart to finger-tips, and ten days later he 
read her what he had written since. As before, they were 
together at the same hour in the schoolroom, and the lengthen- 
u»g days of spring had enabled him to get through it, sitting 
by the window without Ughts, though dusk hac'. gathered 
thickly m the corner of the room Eleanor had turned her 
chaur towards the window-sill, and when he had finished he 
looked up at her and her grave, pa.} face 

" Is that as far as ycu have got ?" she asked. 

" Yes." 

Tj6 girl got up, and, before speaking again, switched on 
the hghts. Then she came back to her chair and sat on the 
arm of it, facing him. 

" Oh, Mr. Whittaker," she said, " you don't know how 
much I want you to write a splendid play. I can't tell you 
how much." 

There was such sincerity and warmth in her voice that, if 
they had not been friends even, he could not have resented 
what her words implied. He laid the manuscript down. 

!! \?*<^°'* ^ow "ow bad it was till I read it aloud," he said 
Ah ! but it isn't bad," said Eleanor eagerly. " We both 
know that. It's good, and you have improved it ever so 
much from what it was when you first read it. But— but 
thmk of the first act !" 

II I know," he said. " It isn't good enough. It won't do." 

' No. Oh, I do think it's nice of you not to seem as if you 
mmded my saying so. Please tell me you don't." 

"I should only have minded if you had said you thought 
It was good," said he. " I should have minded that ; it 
would have been cruel of you." 

'' Cruel ?" asked she. 

" Yes ; it would have been making a polite, meaninsless 
stranger of yourself." 

The personal note was struck, and it was just because the 
girl heard it ring so clear and tr-e that she did not echo it 
in speech of hers. But she could not help a blush and a bright- 
ness coming to her face, and knew that he must see it there 



4?1 
''I 









•* THE WEAKER VESSEL 

htJITii**! J**?"®'. ■^•. *»«n8 o«* '<>>• Wm. He saw it. and his 
fteart beat faster, looking at that sweet, eager face and seeing 
aer unspoken answer there, truer than any words could be' 
resides, for Eleanor, there was the play to speak of, which 
also was he, born of his wit and his brain. She laughed. 

««i{r * *'' ,,®"; '***' y°" entirely wish me not to be the 
pohte "tranger" she saijT. "And, indeed, I don't think I 
could I care about the play far too much to be polite stranger. 

'..mv '®®* • • ^ '®«* "o much more like a rude friend !" 
That IS nauch better," he said. " Now, please criticize." 

DDe shook her head. 

" I couldn't in detail," she said. " I couldn't say that 

Ki^inT."^^ ** 'u'""8- B"t-»>ufc they are all speaking 
behind a veil, somehow. It's as if they were all drowsy— 
ti^wspr ana labonous. It all . . . it all wants a whisky-and- 

There was something startling in the unconscious appro- 
pnateness of this ; it was, unknown to her. precisely and poiB- 

"■??{te*"?®- He took up the manuscript again. ^* 

That IS exactly it," he said. 

nfS^ T" ?•"* * minute's debate in his mind when he came 

SXf ^K f- '°T A*u "'8^J- His determination had 
jeemed at the tune to bo thorough, and profoundly resolved, 

in»L„H ^^''IS'^y which now seemed to him just ai profound 
mstantly undermmed it. There was nothing in common 
between him and a man ,who was treading even the eSCt 
Bteps of the drunkard's descent, for he had nl cralg wh^ew 
^^^1^ f ''^' ^^ "^'^^'^P^oyed it as a m^L towards 
W,^^w "*^ ^""^^ *° ^'""^ ^"^ ^^« sparkle and freedom of 

wntmg. He felt he had been treating himself like a child out of 
TwiT rt "^"f i ^^ P"* «°™^ danglrous toy. and Wa^ not a 
ohUd ; he knew the nature of the toy. and he knew thei,«P f « 
;5anl5" ^^"ded to put it. The 4 w^ alrelSy compl^^^^^ 
planned ; he found no weakness in the carefully co3,vSh 
development of it. and a Vm nights, big wiJh work wo^ 
certainly see it finished, if he could judge by thlspeed and 
ease with which the first act had been imended. And thoSSh 
sake Xl^r^^S* 'A get the play well fashioned f^l pj^y's 
ffr ™3 1, ^ « ** ^*^ ^^'""^ *^*t a"d illuminated it was 
hTr and Ti.. ?h ^^^'^^"8 ^°^ ^^r himself alo^ butZ 
p!^'/ t ^^^^^ ^" ^^^ P"™"it of his work was for her 
Poor, profound determination of but ten days befor^ ! 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 08 

Ab he had expected, the respoiue was swift, and the work 
at which he had so industriously toiled for ten days, and which 
WBH 80 dull and tarnished when fashioned, began instanta- 
neousl^ to glow and shine under the new burnishing. 1 hree 
nights work, prolonged till two or three in the morning, saw 
it finished, and then, without pause now or any mental debate, 
he attacked in the full flame of his ardour the third and last 
act. He let no scruple or hesitation take root in his mind ; 
the play was going to be finished out of hand without any 
thought for the conditions under which it was done. More 
than once, it is true, he had some momentary qualm when he 
went to bed no longer only half drunk, and in the morning 
found pages almost undecipherable. But when, with the help 
of hazy memory, he solved the scrawls, the qualm passed, for 
he found his work to be vivid and k3en beyond his expecta- 
tions. Besides, each night as it passed brought him swiftly 
nearer to the completion of his work, and when that was done, 
so he fervently assured himself, he would allow '^imself no 
repetition of a habit that did not yet for its own sake attract 
him. It was not for pleasure that he drank (that fact seemed 
to him of paramount importance), but with a definite object 
in view. 

Eleanor during this fortnight was hardly less excited over 
the progress of the play than he ; indeed, her concern for it 
was touched with the same personal sympathy as his. Just 
as to him the success of it meant so much more than the play 
itself, so to her the play was not only a play, but his work. 
Since the evening when she had condemned his first attempt at 
the second act, he had not read to her again, and she still 
supposed that he was at work on it when he was already 
within a night or two of the completion of the whole. He had 
told her nothing about that ; that was to be a surprise. Mean- 
time, though she saw that often he looked yellow and tired- 
eyed in the mornings, that seemed to her (as it did to him 
who knew the reason for it) a negligible drawback to long 
nights of work, for youth rcxsks nothing of the cost of its desire. 
He had told her it was going on well, and though she wished 
she could have taken the headache on her own brow, where 
she would have worn it like a decoration, she could not give 
him the same quality of sympathy for it that she gave him 
over his work. 

Then the end came. One morning, after the children's 
lessons were over, he met her in the hall, waiting to take EUsie 
for a walk before lunch. 



S -.=«».- 



94 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



he'lS®'®'" L","^\*'? ??,?®^ **^ momiM. Miss Ramsden," 
u Ah, the play ?" asked she. " Something about the play ?" 

a riddle '"®'^®"* ^^® puzzled over this, as over an answer to 

"About all the play ?" she asked. " Oh, Mr. Harry, you 
don't mean it is finished ?" ^»"*y. you 

wW®„"'*''T'''°'"''^ °^ ^^"^ ^^ of his Christian name was 
Wm ll^TLl'® ""^ °^!u '*? ^*'^'^- She had never spoken to 
lum 1 ke that, even with the polite prefix. She had Wotten 

thonlTfTt' «*»« «Pok« to him-given the prefix-^ she 

iaZslme^e. ""^ ^"^'^ '"""«^ *° '''^^^^^ *^«« 

f.«'« «f ' ^^^ Eleanor." he said (and to him, too, the Chris- 

fir bSd or gS^" '^'^** °' difficulty). " it's finished 

shf *S,H?£? ^'^ name as it had never been on his lips before ; 

pnU^ sSt T'^fPrV'- V*^^ '^''^ ^^ necessarSy of the 

EusvfS Lf^^ Christian name convention hid been 

St« iS^^.*^'^^"^ **^®™ without forethought; thev had 

Sfflp"^*' ''' ^ ^^^ ^^«« ^'"^^^ i«*o p:>etf;f frSS 

were^s^tilf^Jf f^ '" '^^f^^^- 1^11 the time I thought you 

rea^g month-old newspapers. I have been thinkina to 
myself every day, 'Surely if the second act is getting^i so 
b^W^^V""^* ^r?"" ^ ^^^^^' And all the thne Fwas so 
But I couldn t tell myself that you cared," said he 

« T^h^^t*"^*'*,''^*'* ?* ^^'^ °°^i^8 downstairs to them. 
in J ^^ ^°" ^T ^ *'*'^'" «l^e said quickly. " Come 
St on wfrf/'^" ^rV" 1^"^°"^ *^« putting yo^ 
Wk/"" '''^''°^^^ ^^ *^^^ *° S^<^ 'o *^e Park and 

" ^"* mayn't I read it you now that it is done ?" he asked 

For a moment, not from pique or resentment, but simnlv 

& Tr w^^^r' ^?^°^ ^^^* ^"^t ^<^ *h« fi^ that heffl 
told her nothing for so long, and at his declaration that h^ 
could not tell himself that she cared. But the hS waa of the 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



95 



mOdest and most temporary kind ; it was but of the texture 
of a film of mist in front of the sun. Besides, if she had helped 
as he said. ... 

" Helped ?" she asked. How can you be so silly ? But it 
would be perfectly lovely if you would read it me. When do 
you think? What about this evening? Mrs. Wilkins is 
dmm^ out, I know, and Mr. Wilkins " 

Elsie put in her small oar. 

" Papa will go to sleep was what Miss Bamsden was going 
to say, she remarked. " Miss Ramsden, dear, we shan't 
get much farther than the front door and back if we don't 
start." 

" This evening, then," said Harry. 

Fortune favoured these mild conspirators, and they had 
to wait but a f^hort half -hour after dinner for Mr. Wilkins to 
fall mto his usual slumber. Then since the sound of the human 
voioe, whatever it was saying, was to him a safe and harmless 
soporific, Harry produced the manuscript, and read the 
emended second act and the third, without pause and without 
word or criticism from Eleanor. Then at the end, even as 
when before he had read in the dusky schooh-oom, there was 
silence, but even before she broke it he knew how different 
was the quaUty of it from that of criticism. He knew that 
what he had written was good ; he knew she knew it. It was 
a comedy, in that the end was happy, but somehow the 
smoothmg out of the misunderstanding which had threatened 
disaster, the emergence of serene sunlight again, brought to 
her eyes the tears that are wholly sweet. She mopped them 
away before she spoke. 

1 u 9*^' Mr. Harry," she said. " Who told you ? It happened 
like that I can t think how you knew. I think I forgot to 
to say ' Thank you.' " 

will d «»^* ^^ ■ ^® ^^^ eagerly. " Do you really think it 

She laughed. 
„ !iy^' ^* Y^^ do until you Avrite another one," she said. 

Uf course I know nothing about it, but then after all the 
public that goes to theatres knows nothing about it It's 
you who seem to know about them. Why, it's human ! It all 
happened to me, only I never knew it tm you read it me. 
Oh, can t Mr. Grey learn it, and get his company together and 
act it to-morrow ?" *r ^ o 

He got up and stood before her. 



I 



96 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



"If I thought there was a ohanoe of his doing it, not 
to-morrow, but next year, even," he said, " I would "^ 

He paused ; really there was only one achievement in his 
mind worthy of the occasion, and that he could not tell her. 
She laughed again at his lack of imagination. 

" Oh, what empty threats !" she said. " Besides, you know 
quite well there is a chance of it." 

" Not the slightest !" he said. " But I don't care. I shall 
have it typewritten and send it to him just the same." 

" So, clearly, you think there is no chance," said she. 

The usual trying period of waiting, of hurrying down- 
stairs on the postman's knock, and slowly returning upstairs 
afterwards, succeeded the despatch and acknowledgment of 
the play, and to Eleanor the delay seemed quite inexplicable. 
Mr. Grey had but to begin to read in order to be unable to 
stop until he had finished, and for a day or two after it was 
certain he had received it she looked for Harry to receive a 
telegram rather than a letter. But the days unaccountably 
grew to a week, and the week duplicated itself into a fortnight, 
and Harry had ceased to jump up from whatever occupation 
he was engaged in at the sound of the postman's knock, 
before any word came. 

Then one windy April afternoon Eleanor had been walking 
in the Park with Elsie. The daffodils danced together in 
jshining companies, and the yellow crocuses twinkled in the 
grass like a shower of simbeams which, tired of the remote 
aky, had taken up permanent abode on the earth. Over- 
head white clouds, some like washed wool, some like spun 
calcedone, hurried from the West across the turquoise of the 
aky, and the spirit of spring whistled and sang in the budding 
branches of the planes. Even the fat pigeons with blurred 
rainbows on their necks wore a semblance of briskness and 
the whole world was instinct with the vigour of the unfolding 
year. Never before in all her exuberance of youth had 
Eleanor felt so keenly the flow of the sweeping tide of life ; 
it made her blood to bubble and her very bones to rejoice! 
Vaguely, too, but with certainty, the future seemed as en- 
chanting and charged with life as the present, and she won- 
dered at the sweet tumult of her senses. It hardly seemed 
possible that mere health and the exhilaration of a spring 
day could work such rapture within her, and suddenly she 
accounted to herself for her frenzy : it must be that some- 
thing wonderfully joyful had happened, and that some tinging 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 97 

brMn-wave had given her news of it, though not of its nature. 
And on the moment she made a guess at its nature There 
must have come news from Mr. Grey ; for, indeed, nothing 

flh! Jf ^-L^il ^'t ^Z °^*^«^ ^'^^ **»« possibilities of W 
She hurried Elsie back to the square. 

1 JJ^ '^-^ ^2^"!?.P T 8'?nding a figure she knew ; he was 
lookmg m the other dnrection. but presently turned his head 
and ran hatless down the pavement to meet her 
Louis Grey !" he said. " He has taken it." ' 

haS^rLtKh^d^'"' "^'' *^^" ^"'"^ ^' ^- -*^ ^°*^ 
" I am happy !" she said. 



CHAPTER Vn 

The evening so big with fate as regards the fortunes of the 
main characters of our history arrived at the end of June. 
The stage-box had been allotted to the author and his friends, 
but at the last moment Harry found that his nerves declared 
his presence there to be an impossibility. True, it was also 
impossible to stay away ; but since the one impossibility was 
concerned with activities, such as getting into a cab, getting 
out of a cab, talking between acts, and listening during their 
progress, he chose the more passive impossibility, and waited 
at home, ready for news on the telephone. The arrival of 
that, too, appeared to be a thing outside possible experience ; 
he could not imagine taking down the receiver and saying 
' Hullo !" and acknowledging his identity. Indeed, he felt 
uncertain about his identity; his very mind and soul felt 
blurred and befogged, and there seemed to be nothing to show 
who or where he was, or why he was anywhere, or why Eleanor 
and the rest had gone to a theatre, or what a theatre was. 
Even Mr. Wilkins had gone with them, though for years past, 
where he had dined, there he had immediately slept. Harry 
wondered whether he would have a comfortable chair in the 
box, and whether he would snore. 

The last month had passed in a succession of moods in 
which hope alternated with despair and excitement with 
apathy. Mrs. Wilkins, delighted at the achievement of her 
boy's tutor in writing a play and having it accepted by 
Mr. Grey, found herself far more adequately served by this 
really thrilling topic than by the most efficient discharge on 
Harry's ^ part of his tutorial obligations, and had made 
Edward's lessons a matter to suit the convenience of the 
author, and in consequence Edward's progress in education 
had been at Edward's arbitrament. Thus from the first 
dreary rehearsals, when nobody knew when to stand or when 
to sit, down to the last dress rehearsal, only this morning 
when nobody any longer seemed to know a word of his part, 
Harry had spent ius days and nights in the great dark cave 

98 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 99 

of the house, seeing effects be made and lost again, seeinc 
OTder growing out of chaos, and then, as it s^S. S 
reas8«rting Its ancient rights. The pleasant optimism of tS 
theatre which asserts that the worse the last dreBTreh^^J 
goes, the better will be the first performance. fXito^^ 
JwSl^^'ii^' ^' was incapable of conceiving anTxceUenS^ 
that should correspond to so miserable an inadequacy E^ 

^T.r^u^^' "^'^^ "^^^ ^"^ ^^ ^^ * f«^ words^after IhS 
&o ho^r ^" "'°™^«' *^^ "°* *^^°^^ ^^^ 
" The fwt is," he said, " we are all of us a bit stale and 
for my part I am a proverbially bad first-nighter ^1 ^e 
same, I liaye seen stafeness utterly leave a company Xn it 
came to actual performance, and the very people whThave 
been droning and slurring, missing ha/the pointe in the 
mormng, as well as half the ouesT have been « frSi m 
daisies with the dew on them. On the other haad that d^r?J 
^ways happen, and we can't do more than do oJr b^t iSd 

if 'K^^^'i «^ *°° ^^" *^ «^e^g. you mustn't £ dol^. 
hearted. You've written a very good play whatever Thl 
v^d^ct is I suppose you'll be here, won^t /ou^^*^ *^^ 
*k A 0^,yes !" said Harry, really thinkinff at the tin,« 
tha^t Would. "And,afteraU.the%ritic8arlSVa$^a 

• And do you suppose the staUs and the pit and the dress 
cffde are gomg to find out first of all which the criticfS^ 

Sr|rSSr''asl'rth:t\^^^^^ 
" I hadn't thought of that," said Harry 
I never think of anything else. Mind vou I doT,'f 
proph^y faUure, and I coisS it a gooHla/ The ^hl 
IB whether we can make the second act ftnl the on« ^SJ 
went s^o^badly this morning, if you remem^?" ^ """^ '"^^'^ 

and S' f^ ^^ Anstruther gets that across the footlights 

?r^^ .*on tor rf^ "«^*.- S^^ ^^ done TS 
reneaisal , on the other hand, sometimes she hasn't T^Z- 

iTtUe crJi±' ^'' '"^^ ^"^^^^' "^« acS ^tch'in^S 

r LS^^^^^^^^ rui^wiraVS^XTtoTead? 

^And what are you going to do aU afternoon ?" asked 



I I I 



I ' i 



! 



100 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



•' Going to the Zoo." 

" What ! You can look at foolish birds and animals ?" 
Certwnly. By the way, do bring Miss Ramsden with the 
rest round to supper with me afterwards, if she would care to 
oome. 

i; Thanks ; I'll teU her. And if—if it's a dead failure ?" 
All the more need for supper. I want a success just as 
much as you. ' 

Harry's mind mechanically traversed this lugubrious con- 
▼ersation, as he sat in the smoking-room this evening, wait- 
mg, and he tried, though with dulled and clouded nund. to 
find a ray of comfort in it. But if there was, he could not 
get a glimpse of it. Louis Grey's last remark that he wanted 
a success as much as himself filled him with derisive contempt 
a he one was a well-established and successful actor, the other 
a perfectly unknown author ; and even that diflEerence, great 
though It was, lay on the surface only. For himself, success 
meant everythmg ; it meant the chance of winning Eleanor 
the chance of offering her his love. If by this play he could 
earn success and the rewards of sterling coin that accom- 
panied it, he felt not the least doubt about the future He 
could do as well as this again and again ; if this had the 
qualities that amused and interested people, he did not mis- 
trust the volume of the spring from which they came If 
tney had not, he was tutor, until Edward went to Eton, at the 
salary of one hundred pounds a year. Perhaps he could 
get another tutorship after that. But if it was a suc- 
cess. . . . 

He suddenly gave a startled jump, thai testified to the state 
of his nerves, though the exciting cause was nothing more 
alMming than the entry of a footman with spirit decanters 
and siphons ; and at the sight of him the need for drink 
became so imperative that it ceased, so to speak, to be a need 
at aU, and was an instinct as unconscious as the necessity of 
the heart-beat or the inhaUng of air. Several times during 

A ^\^?. anxiety and worry connected with the play 
and all that depended on it had produced in him a cra^jr 
not so dommant as now, but stUl imperative enough to de- 
maiid satisfaction. But now ic had passed into the region of 
mstmct, and without conscious vohtion he mixed and drank 
a glass, m which no very great mixture was required Like 

^^fi!''/?'' "^^^ ^ ^^^ ^^ ^"* ^^^^ emptied, the liquor 
soothed, braced, and equalized him. The nightmare trouble 
passed away ; he was sane again, himself, tasting the rapture 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 101 

Sif^T^ suspense instead of the horrors of hopeless antioi- 
pation. Was there ever a young man so ecstaticSly placed ? 
Half a mile away was a great theatre, filled with eager faces, 
watching the finest actor in London, with his distkguiS 
company, mterpretmg his own play. And watching it. com- 
pellme its suocess-tfiat success which she desired, he knew 
weU. Wdly less than himself-was the girl with the white 

h^tS^fi- ^7f^' S''^ '* "^^ * ^"*''*«r P«t nine, they must 
be at the end of the first act. Surely he must go down and 

m^-* ^" ^\PPf^?. though oily one thing 3d^ 

Thev would send for him at the end. ... And then with 
fretful piercingness of sound, the telephone ff r^gV?he 
hall just outside, and, swift as the strode of a bird's^ 3l 

som« ^l""?!* TJ^- F^^hably the caU was concerned with 
SSZ-^^! *J^ different matter, and. after a pause, he heard 
f^ml^T^^^^^ "^^^ ''' ^^- *^« doo?opeAed. and a 

he'lifd^ ^^^ Hamsden ringing you up from the theatre, sir," 
affS wl^ 'L?f^ impossible to go to the telephone ; the 

" See what it is please," he said. " Say— say I'm out and 
.you wiU give me the message when I come in."^ ' 

as hi wL r^ .*^® T," ^^*° *he hall, and stood by him 
" Thini vofr^'" »°- J^^^' ^" interminable while he^sa^S^ 
ko^de^fC onTa:;;"'' P'^"^"^ '-^ *^« '---'' *--<^ » 

It diS't ^KfX^ T''xAu >^ '*^^- " ^^ Ramsden says 
ee$ weU,^sh: s?id"""- "^"'^"^ *' ^^^^^^^^ °^' «^' »>"* ^^ 

>he^S nofvii'^^*'' *^f smoking-room, and found there 

abnukt * y'* ^f ^P*/', ^^",^ ^^ ^^^ P'^* down. From 

l^f ii? wt P®?P^® ^^ **^® a ^«le more bread at break- 

lS ^^Afl'.^°- *^®y do "ot want either, he drank it 
io,L }rtt%^PfT?/^y,*?^*t^- That seemed to Wi 
e h*?L^ ^* ^*" °* '*' drunk before this message 
, n f\ M *^, '° perceptibly the stinging aromaTf alcohS 
. in the blankness of mind that had Suln on 4^ he fiSS 






1Q2 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



hM^ftBs and drank again. Then he lit a cigarette, and sat 

.•«5 Jw i""!!.* S"""?*® **' *^^ **»»* l»e waited, for ahnoet 
immediately the blankness of mind began to roU away, Uke 
clouds dispersed before some healthy sea-wind. The first 
•ct had not gone very weU ; that, even in Eleanor's indulgent 
eyes, appeared to have been the case. But the first act was 
noting more than the first act— a preface to the drama, 
m first act did more than tell the audience what the play 
Itself was concerned with. No first act ever went well or 
ftadly : you had to get through with the first act before you 
i>egan at aU. And then the impossibiUty of not being there 
struck ^. Of course, he did not know who he was or what 
ne was doing when his real self was down at the theatre aU 
hn! ^f' *""* """^ ""IJ ^ '®^^ «®" was down at the theatre, 
wolu 5?"°! !v.'^f 'T- However, five minutes in a taxi-cab 
would effect the juncture. 

tuPf ®°*'^?® a^d passages were empty when he got to the 

J^r^lL^'^^i?® t^^'^^ ^^"^^ *^o o^ tl^ee boards announcing 
the fact that the house was full. But. to judge by the uttS 
silence as he went along the passage to his box, it would 
nave been more reasonable to suppose that the house was 

!.^^' .??^®' ^ ^® ^®"* a^o^g tlie soft-carpeted way, a 
sudden, thick murmur re-hed him, like the distant sound 

^;f!^.f^^^ ^®/ N*^®"^ *^®^® was dead silence again. The 
attendant turned the key in the door-latch, and he entered. 

;ii.r® ®*2^ ^r ^H^® ^" fr°^* o^ ^m outlined against the 
Ulmmnation from the footlights. But apparently nobody 

^^tS^^^t-S'?' ®,°*f' ^°' ^®^*^6' ^'^- Wilkins, nor Eleanor, 
w^^V^fi "" ^"^^H^ 'i^.^'^^- ^^* ^« «aw that Mr. WilMn^ 
Z!LS f^^%?:^ a" '• tis eyes were quite wide open, and 
TnS'oS^f.S^ fu '*18^,- ^"* *^** wi the only fact that 
^tt^'^^^ii^^ 1^°^^ **'«^*'« ^«« «ot sound"^ asleep, so 
stiU was It. Then, from quite close below, he heard Grey's 
voice saying, • You are mad to think that." And he k^ew 
tnat the crucial moment in the play had come. 

r.\]^ remembered with extraordinary distinctness the night 
wh^n he had arrived at this point in the writing of his plly. 
mre was a long speech for Grey, in which he pleaded Vith 
the woman who did not believe his loyalty to her ^th 
Grey distinctly in his mind, he had fasWoned sentence a^r 
sentence, aU bnef, all forcible, all eloquent. Then there^ 
a passage for the character which Mies Anstruther was taking 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



108 



of auite admirable dramatic utterance. He had sat late that 
ni^t, writing these, but the night after he had sat later yet 
weighing each phrase, and at intervals putting his pen 
Uirough many of the sentences he had so exquisitely wrought 
Jtach one, when he considered it fully, was unnecessary, and 
he was beginning to see that at moments of big emotion 
every word that is unnecessary is worse than useless. 
Given that he had reached an adequate level of dramatic 
situation, the problem was not how much or how richly the 
two characters should talk, but how little. So, instead of 
the three pages which had been the result of one night's 
work, there remained as the result of two, just two sentences, 
with a pause in between. He said. " You are mad to think 
that ; then there was silence— a silence which, if the scene 
was to succeed, rang with the arguments that he had can- 
ceued— and then she repUed : " Very well ; I am mad !" 

There had been endless difficulties over that sUence in 
rehearsal : Miss Anstruther had failed to time it, and, what 
was worse failed to realize its significance, and it was not till 
Uary had showed her aU he had cut out that she under- 
stood. And then, of course, since her discarded speech was 
admirably written and altogether appropriate, it was ahnost 
impossible to persuade her to acquiesce in the sUence at all 
when there was such a wealth of dramatic utterance ready 
wntten to fill it. Those two curt sentences, she maintained, 
were mere Ollendorf , yet mere Ollendorf was better than the 
snence. The audience would not understand : they had been 
led to expect a cUmax— the climax— and instead they were 
given silence and Ollendorf. All their suspense would be 
quenched, so said Miss Anstruther, by the pause, and when it 
nad aU quite cone, she would observe that she was mad. But 
J^uis Grey, though he saw the risk, took the side of the author, 
too to-mght Harry stood behind Mrs. Wilkins' chair and 
listened to the silence that had cost him so much 
work. He could see Miss Anstruther, who was in the middle 
ot the stage and he saw how admirably she held the house. 

^^""ti, f •J^°^^^''®"®<^' ^ i* » «ob rose there; once her 
l^^ twitched bitterly. Then she appeared to master the 
storm of emotion that heaved so smaU a distance below the 
surtace that it seemed it must burst from her mouth in im- 
passioned speech, and she turned her head to Grey. " Very 
weU ; I am mad," she said, quite quietly. ^ 

i.f/lJ^ ^x? ^°?^® strangling constriction that held the 
lattention of the whole theatre was suddenly relaxed, and a 









111 

)1 



1 1 



N ;l 






104 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



E.^iJr^ ^\^ long-d»wn "Ah-h-h-hf came from • 
hundred mvoruntary throats. Elewior, belatedly oonscioua 
that wmeone had entered the box, turned round for haU a 
second. Jart nodded at Harry, and instantly looked stage- 

m^lrr^4 **' *^/ **? "^f"* ^'^^^"y *"^ stormily, for that 
moment of quiet and silence was like the centre of some 
oyclomo disturbance. AU round it the winds raved, and the 

r»J? .^r fu** " ^^f °®"*^ ^" P"«ed the character! 
again got into the not of emotion which had cuhninated in 
that moment of deathly stillness. Ten minutes later the 
act was over. 

,\I°l * ^T' °"°"*f» ^^^ whole theatre gave itself over to 
shouting demands for the appearance and reappearance of 
Ihl: Z Pn^^'^Pal jactors, and the usual formaUties were gone 
through. Loms Grey was forced to make a short speech, 
«2?' ?":?^'^!'v.**' ™*."7 in9»»iri«> about the author, vaguely 
IIT^^ *J\f* i"" ^^'^^J ^° ^ »^«* *o find out wher^ he was ; 
In^^IS®" *A® fi"P;?o^ curtain was eventually allowed to b^ 
l?-!^' * .^J^orougWy gratified audience discussed the situa- 
rnn^; J'^i fi,****®"*^'"' ^9^ ^^°^ Harry had fled into the 
W?l£!^™J^ summer mght outside, many friends of IVIrs. 
wis. I ^® ^"'**' *"4 '^ ^»« universaUy agreed that Mr. 
ouSh? if'LI*^ * ''?'y ''^TJ y*'""^ °^*"' ^'^d that Edward 
having had the privilege of being taught his history by so 

&-* *",*°';», *^?*' '^'^^"^"g about outside, th^ gJted 
tutor scarcely thought at all of the tremendous success thaS 

mLlTl ^'^""^T J"^ u^"°"«^*' «' *^°"^ht of it only as a 
wZ^^V^J ?\'^^ ^'^ *^« P'^l^ face and the golden 
In^ f w ^""'5 '^•'l*^ ^?' 0^' ^^- Haxry. I am so dad," 
md that outweighed what aU the rest of the world couid 
say. 

e^tterZ^^. ^?K ?*"*• ^dnigbt when he drove home alone 
after supper with Louis Grey, in the wake of the brougham 

W.I ^""""ITI^ ¥^' ^^^^n« »nd Eleanor. All that^ hS 
happened did not seem to him in the least unreal and dream- 
out of all Ihf"^^^ ""Ti ^nd actual. One moment, indeed, 
fmirl M ^ ^^T^^^ ^^ ** *^« ^^^ appeared preposterously 

S??a^o fn^^'^v^t-^^/^"" ^« ^^-^ t« s4 alone on Z 
tho stage to make his acknowledgment to the house and 

«J rlt**' *^' "^r r I" ^^d °^^«^ bow. took the a^^ct 
of reahty agam, for he had looked up at the stage-box. and 
there was Lleanor smiling at him. *^ Again, at the end of 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



105 



■upper, he had had two wordt with the •ctor, and ♦hey too 
were inspired with the same reality. 

.. u ^* *■?.*' * littie ■uccew, my dear fellow," Grey had said, 
but a big one. You wiU be glad a month from now that 
1 didn t let you sell your work offhand to me. and I'm glad, 
too. There*U be plenty of time for you to write another 
play before your cheques cease to come in for this, and I 
need hardly say that I shaU be glad to read it, if you wiU give 
me the chance. So you can go and order a motor-oar and 
marry a wife to-morrow, if you wish," 

yiK. Wilkins, with Eleanor, had only just arrived when he 
! got home, and she welcomed him with all her effusive kind- 
' ness. 

I u' ^j"' J' ™ ?"^f *^®™'8 nobody more delighted than me," 

I sue said ; and what an evening it's been ! 1 declare I never 

jnjoyed a play more, and to think that you've been writing 

\n aU this time in spare moments, and nobody but Miss 

Kamsden knew ! And I've never had such a "box fuU of 

people as I had to-night ; they were coming and going between 

tne a^Jts Lke a procession, and very glad I was to see them aU. 

Jiut 1 m rejoiced at your good fortune, Mr. Whittaker, oven 

i t JrJ ^ ""PPose It means I must look out for another tutor 

lor Jidward, to teach him his Greeks and Romans. But I 

dare say you'U often drop in to lunch or dinner, and teU us 

wnat vou are writing next." 

Oddly enough, the fact of his giving up his post here had 
not occurred to Harry. o «, x- r 

•• That never struck me," he said, " I suppose because I've 

" «ru ^*?Py ^®"- ^"^^ »* ^^'^'t good-bye just yet, is it ?" 
J Wtoy, dear me, no, I hope not ; though it's ' good-night,' 
I tor such a time of the night it is ! WeU, I have had a plewant 
! evening. *^ 

Eleanor followed her to the door of the drawing-room, 
and then turned back. 

r S^' ¥'• Harry," she said, " I must say one word. And 
yet there s no word that will do. It's just too glorious for 
any word.' ® 

And then he knew his time was come. 
It's aU yours," he said, " if you wiU come and share it. 
J5ut you must take me as weU. Will you, Eleanor ? There's 
just one word that will do." 

It w^ as if dawn glowed on her sweet face, and the word 
was said. 



' >i 



in 



CHAPTER VIII 

^th^a,SokIJt^*♦^"«»^°"^°"* afternoon late in November, 
S w?th e^f !?• l'"**^^"* the frosty and slightly foggy 
riathJr ni!S?®,'"?"'f^*^°°' reluctant, though she had^ 

dvr ShTh^v movement on this keen and darkeniSg 
wtnderfuf !^ u*®"*? 5* ?y^« P«^ Comer to look at thf 
te^^S nn "^'^l' **' **""^y «"°»«>n b«Wnd the wegterly 
.hTwJuld iSrf ^'t'"^"* *J"Hy ^*>^ South Audley SJ 
•Mi i.uo8e wgiits and sounds which to the London lover mAlm 

mtle ahJaTnfTP^^^Vy *?^ intimately de«"i°Zm; 
ndh^les^th .^' *5f- »°»P%hter was i^rforming luiSnoiw 
S^ thr.hJ^Jf'^^u'**''^' ** *^* '»®" *o"ch of whfch, appaJ! 
ffl w« a i^Sf " • ^^"'^"f **. °^ "«^* »»»"* ont like flowe" 
a 8Mghr^Mro1"Zll*"^ pleasant thought, and it was wiS 
« Bujjm sense of disillusionment that, as she came nMu^r 

H. wSch'Zrhe h'a^t^'^1'"* a littie^orl of flTe Se 

end of it CannlieS^ti'^r^K^P *^^ ^P ^*^ * ^^^ »* *»»« 
afttfl^ti ne applied to the burner. Even then it was an 

^dt^^ZZ^''''' f°.^ ^^« ^«^* *^**' i^ all faSV^a^'napp? 
avenX ^^ n,VP*"5v,*°"^?"8 ^^^ *he more agreeable 

^y proSs^ fh« L«l°°S. %"^«ffin-bell was miking its 
bSore sKSf^ f wondered if she would catch him up 
wS-e briiH w 1 ^ ^"^r" '^^ ^°"°<^ Street. The shops too 

less agreeS ^Me th^i nWn '^^'''^^^ stewpans. Not 
Rxwaoie were the clean, dry pavements, with the 



i 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



107 



pAttorns of light and shade irou the lit hunpe, and the road- 
way populouf with shining-eyed motors. To her catholic 
mind even the reek of petrol was pleasant, for it reminded 
her of so many delightful hours, some spent in the country, 
others connected with this satisfying life in town. Most 
> vivid of all in her mind was that dnve from Mrs. Wilkins* 
last summer to the first performance of Harry's play, for 
they had been obliged to wait in the aueue, and au over-lubri- 
oated ensine in front of them had filled the brougham with 
bluish exhalations. Child as she was of the South and the 
sun, she welcomed with the genial friendliness of her Joy- 
loving race all the little pleasures of every day, and yet they 
were but the background to the great glowing happiness, 
compounded of tenderness and passion, that fillfcd her life. 
She was almost pagan in her tremendous zest for the ]oy of 
life ; for those v ^o are of religious mind often put limits to 
their enjoyment oy reminding themselves that their pleasures, 
even love itself in its plwsical sense, the delight that is in 
the corporal presence of the beloved, are transitory and 
fleeting. Eleanor, pagan in this regard, knew no such lunits ; 
she enjoyed eveirthing without the slightest reservation, 
and poured the whole strength of her youth and health into 
so doing. But as she took out her latch-key to let herself 
into the house in Mount Street, where their flat was situated, 
she paused a moment, looking up at the windows. 

" Oh, God ia kind," she said, half aloud. 

Then, without pause, she smiled on the porter by the lift, 
and said : " Do let me pull the ropes myself, may I ? Fancy, 
if there was a flre, and I didn't know how to get down !" 

She found that Harry had come in, and, ordering tea, went 
to his sitting-room. 

" Darling, I worked the lift myself," she said, " and brought 
it quite level with the landing. The lift-man said he couldn't 
have done it better himself, which was obvious. I have had 
such a nice afternoon, and I am so glad to get home. And, 
Just think, we are neither of us going out to-night, so we 
shall have all this delicious long evening with no distiirb- 
anoes." 

She bent over his low chair and kissed him lightly on the 
forehead, and he looked up at her smiling in those brown 
velvety eyes, the white of which was underlaid with black 
hke a peeled plover's egg. 

" I want to talk, too, "he observed. 

" All right, if I may interrupt. What is it !" 



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observed fooSsh^featr* «* « i* ™ the nineteenth," 

teentttnXrw^rf ^a'\^& ^^^'^^f ^^ - ^^^^ nine- 

you Vo 'li^gii* ^ork :*r'"v ' *^^"'" «^« «^^<^- " I long for 

that-that bejan toSe ulfir,; V^ P^^^^ ^^ ^t aU 
you.eMr^,| ,;,p-s^f^^^^^ Bid 

of thetin.eY:,t?L^lXte''''^ *^"^^^ '^°«*' -^ -st 
had^u1o?er-''''^°^"^^^^^^-"-- "I like bears. What 

ricUcK tfen JabouTi^r^^ ^" f "^^"^ "^^^ He said rather 
I was too haS He Z^T ' ^J^i , S" *°1^ ^« ^^ ^^^onghl 

Eleanor poured out tea 

soft 'and lazv't? nThr^t?"^ " ^^^^«"^- -^^« <>- 
as sea-air." iiappmess. Happiness is as bracing 

husblnd.'^^'™"^^ °^ ^^«- H- Whittaker," observed her 

ReveT::d tie Vsfount"? W^^ .^J *^« -^^^ I «^et the 
'I'm not hung^ but thaVk ^^^^^ ""f ^" *^i^ J^^ story about 
I iaughed, buH; dMk^^ W why .^ ^^^^^y ' at fuU length. 

mother i?lSS^^^^^^^^ " And he and your step- 

" Yes. Harry if wouU ^^''^op^ow, aren't they ?" ^ 

new play tin. ev'enfngTol^^^^^^^^^^^^ -- ^ you\egan the 

" ^ni "'T'^^y Pl^*«« I^"i« Grey." 

" T^o funredt'h nS ^"" ^« ' Th^Dilemma ' going a" 

offahttle.tSS;?L^^tK^^^^^ 
Eleanor gave a satisfied sigh Chnstmas." 

where il^iniqutfeto'i:: t^rH. ^ ^^^"^ ^^^^ ^^^ -me- 

" I know what he mea^P°°^; J^** P^.^^s h^ isn't." 
to earn money. So Tt fs B^?}. '^"^ it is great fun having 
motor." ^ " ^®- -^y the way, I had to order thai 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



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" DarKng, you are awfuUy extravagant. How much have 
rou saved out of all those lovely cheques that come every 
Monday ?" ^ 

" AhnoBt enough to pay for it ? Not quite, it is true, but 
reiy nearly." 
•'^Oh, Harry, was it wise ?" 
I don't know, but it came upon me like— like a con- 
iction that we wanted it. It's no use arguing against a 
bonviction, and, after all, the main point of money is to 
Jpve you what you want. And if you say a word more about 
It, I shall order you a sable cloak, and a tiara and a pearl 
■aecklace. *^ 

" I should hke those," remarked Eleanor. " I think I shall 
day more words about it." 

. He got up and stood in front of the fire, luxuriously stretch- 
ing himself. '^ 

"I wish I had some excuse for not beginning work aeain " 

»nd deVer ""* I can't think of any. I feel particularly well 

Eleanor looked at him glowing-eyed. 

" You used to look frightfuUy tired and yeUow sonjo.imes 
last spnng, when you were working at ' The Dilemma/ " she 
(laid. ' 

" WeU, I felt tired and yeUow," said he. " I think it wronK 
> deceive people." ° 

"But no amount of dissimulation would conceal the fact 
Ihat you were yeUow," said Eleanor. " Please don't look 
yellow agam. I so much prefer you red and brown." 

1 11 try not to," said he. " Now, Nellie, will you please 

Srivtnmetoit"''^ ^ ^^^"^ ^"^ ^"""^^ *° '^^'■^- ^°"''^® 
Her face fell ever so little. 

"Oh, mayn't I sit here?" she said. "I won't inter- 
ipc 

"You darUng, you couldn't help interrupting. The fact 
Ll^^ being here interrupts. I couldn't be interested in 
anything else if you were here !" 

"Hurrah! I'll go. Have you got everything «" 

rJ^l^r^ft^x ""* *^® "^"^ P^*y '^^ *^®*dy fiiUy worked 
Kioveredit '^'^°™*^"8 ^^ * drawer of his writing-table 

" Oh, I hope he is there," said Eleanor, getting up. 



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" And let's have dinner at half-past eight, shall we ? That 
will give me three hours and I shan't dress if things go well. 
And we'll have a bottle of champagne to celeK Se 
bemnmng of term, however they go. Now go away" 

iileanor moved towards the door. 

"Well, you might wish me luck," he said. 

She retraced her steps, and laying her hands on his should 
raised her face to his. """uiu 

" Oh, thank God for you !" she said. 

i,o?i®*'''?u^ ^u "^ of afternoon happiness had here its fountain- 
head. The shops and the lamps and the nuffin-man had 
been glonous affaus, because they caught the light from this 
after-glow which would certainly follow. In the same wav 
clouds at sunset are not in themselves more magical aflfaire 
«ian the same clouds, greyish in texture and woolly in outline, 
which obscure the sky at noonday. Only they a/e shot with 
light from an obbque sun ; it seems as if the sun was making 
tHem the objects of his pecuUar attention. Thus she had 
found a wonderful pleasure in the little incidents of the street 
because, when she had passed them aU, gloating, she would 
find Harry at home, waiting for her. No doubt, even if he 
had been away, she would Have enjoyed the cheery frost of 
the streets, though they but led on to a solitary evening • as 
i ""*!,' he " coloured her day," and all thin^ were tfam- 
figured by her love of him. Love was the solvent her nature 

cherish the lovely helpless silly things of the world, it seemed 
to her now that she had always been embracing them bUndlv 
Now she saw m hat treasure surrounded her ; her natural ten- 
deniess had become in itself a pagaionate thing. The strictures 
and bindings of her girlhood had been loosed ; she had S 
into communion with aU that before had aroused only sym- 
pathy and hkmg. The world was a meaning thing to her now • 
hitherto It had been a place of riddles. Now thelmman bond 
of love knit all things together. Instead of looking at thincs 
and enjoying them they were part of her, just bicause sfo 
was a woman and because she was greatly in love. And the 
sigmficance of the ordinary external worid did not lose in 
consequence of this quickening of her nature ; the effect was 
exactly the reverse. It was quickened, too ; the whole pulse 
of it beat with a more vivid blood. !'•*««' 

She went, as commanded by her lord, into the drawimr- 
room next door to his den, which at present, though they hSi 



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Ibeen in the flat some six weeks, had remained tentative in gar 
Tiishment. It was plentifully furnished, but the disposition 
of the pieces still lacked the note of habitual usage. There 
was no character in it, for, in this time of holiday they had 
pat, whenever they were at home, which was but seldom, in 
the room where she had left him now to begin the winter's 
■vork. But the fire prospered on the hearth, vivid with the 
rosty air, and, since Harry was working, it seemed to her 
omehow suitable that she should extend the borders of home 
3 include this hitherto neglected apartment. There must be a 
3rt of shrine by the fire : a big arm-chair for him when, after the 
iay's work, he spent a dome: . ic evening, as to-night, with 
lier. There must be a low table by that, where a book or two 
ad the evening papers should lie to hand. Or perhaps a 
bouple of tables within easy reach were better, one table 
bommon to them, where the papers should be, and the evening 
^ray with its siphon and biscuits and lemonade, and the 
Btters of evening post, while the other one, quite smaU, should 
■tand at the right-hand of his arm-chair, a casual depository 
bf such chance things as a man puts down. Then, on the 
bther side of the public table, should be placed the majestic 
bfa that her stepmother had given her as a wedding-present. 
It would hold two ; he could have his private chair, if he wished, 
yi sit by her. 

\ All this fireside encampment but bordered on the edge of a 
really fine Aubusson carpet that had come from the same donor 
« the sofa. Eleanor — such was her ignorance— had no idea 
rhat Aubusson implied ; she only knew that IVIrs. Ramsden, 
fcmiably desirous of giving " really useful things," had sent 
Vith the brand-new sofa this carpet, which was certainly old, 
or it had been for years in the schoolroom at the Vicarage at 
Sracebridge. But Eleanor had always adored it, with its grey 
round, and ribbon border, and centrepiece of formal roses ; 
ud Mrs, Ramsden, thoughtfully remembering her affection 
or it, and at the same time seeing an excuse for having a 
svely new Kidderminster— the Aubusson had some holes in 
i— for the schoolroom, had added it to her present of " really 
seful things," which included a sanitary dustbin and some 
irge coppers. Hitherto, furniture had stood about on it ; 
^ow, fresh smitten with a sense of its beauty, Eleanor made 
"raljflowers of the tables and chairs that had eclipsed it, and 
eft it empty and ungaxnished. But the Chesterfield sofa looked 
omehow terribly common; the pseudo-Morris chintz be- 
haved like the Bank-Holiday crowd in Hampton Court. There 



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FI^nnr??S*n^''*^°'"'*®" ''^°"* »*- '^°»«»* unbearable. 

fothk" thS? hats. °"""'" ^°P'*'" '"*• "° *^ «P-^' «h« did 

Half an hour of moving and tugging sufficed to mve the 

IhTr aI^'^I^^^"^^^ *^' '^^d at tSfend she sat do^ ^ the 
chair dedicated to Harry, and. turning round in it. survey^ 
her labours. Some mstinctive sense of beautiful things-the 
same sense that had revolted at Uncle Evelyn's M^fUxU 
ChlterLw '^^ \ ?ijkthom-caused her to loaX '^ 
Chesterfield sofa. But Mrs. Ramsden was coming to lunch 
to-morrow, and it was not less than necessary that the resist- 
ing piece of her wedding-gift should be largely in evidence 
It was quite certain that on this, her first lisit to the flat' 
she would msist on seeing all that the flat contained, and with 
unerring eye she would quite as certainly observe the destina- 
«Ln^f^l ^'' Py.^^®°*«- T^e coppers were in the kitehen, the 
V?^ !F fr?"" '^T.^^'^T^ certainly where sanitary dust- 
bms shoifld be. and the Chesterfield sofa was in honourable 
position beside the fireplace of the drawing-room. In the 
?ij;r?£"r°"'' *o«' ^^^,.the Aubusson carpet, and its presence 
there (whereas m the Vicarage it had been in the schoolroom 
only, and had grown too shabby for that) would probably 
Sr,^? ^^"^ ^^""""y forebodings as to the result of her step- 
daughter s marriage. A writer of plays seemed to her a very 
precanous kind of husband, and, though his first attempt tl 
se.)ure a livelihood by such hazardous industry had been 
crowned with very substantial success, she had felt it wise to 
et l^leanor know that, m her opinion, at any rate (" for what 
It was worth she was careful to add), she was taking a very 
rash step. In this promotion of the Aubusson carpet to a 
drawing-room she would see the fulfilment of her wammgs. 
Jfrs^ Ramsden had been thorough enough to go to see the 
play in qu^tion first so as to be able to speak with authority, 
and she did not think highly of it. The discouraging attS 
also was partly determmed by the fact that shI hfrself had 
T^l. S? l^^ *«^- ?^ t^^^ty-four, and in her heart she 
thought that any girl marrying earlier than that attractive 
age was guilty of slight impropriety. It was like putting 
up her hair too soon, or ... it was like letting her 
S^f ffrv,"?!" * ^°"^^^ '^'^* «^o^d have concealed a 
fact of fifteen "''''^ ^*"°*^^ P"""*^ """^^ ^"^ ^^® 

Eleanor, seated by the fire in the chair destine.-: ,r her 
husband, could not help dwelling in amused and kindly 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



113 



etrospect on these harmless memories. It was but little 
acre than a vear ago that her stepmother, as she now fully 
ealized, had been delighted to get her out of the house which 
^as her home. She felt no bitterness whatever about that, 
ar there was no doubt that they were incompatibly oon- 
tituted. Yet, though all her present happiness had sprung 
it of that step, Eleanor wondered, with desire to find and 
iaim all blame that could be attributed to her, how she could 
lave made things smoother at home. This search was made 
Vith conscious purpose, for, though to-day she could not 
lagine that any serious friction could ever enter her life 
;ain, she knew that there must b , moments even in the days 
those most dc— to one another, when surface relations are 
trained and requiic readjustment. At such times it was 
Irobably not enough to love and to be loved ; one had to be 
^ever as well, and tactful. Tact sprang, no doubt, chiefly 
rom the heart— love, that is to say, was the chief inspirer 
: it — but it was an affair of the brain as well. 
At the moment she heard the electric bell ring, and, not 
Wanting to be at home to anyone, she ran out to intercept 
he servant going to answer the door. But she met her 
omg to Harry's study, for it was his bell that had sounded, 
ad she wondered what it was that he wanted. However, if 
p had wanted her, he would have come to her, and he had 
ot done so ; clearly, therefore, he did not want her, but 
omething else. Ink, paper, pens, surely she had only that 
loming seen to the equipment of his writmg-table ; and, still 
Irondermg what it was, she turned into the dining-room, for 
%e mere idle pleasure of wandering about the beloved home 
te table was laid, silver and glass and flowers shone and 
Darkled on the cloth, the fire smiled, the curtains were drawn. 
fhat a delicious evening they would have ! 
[She had hardly entered, when Morris, the parlour-maid, 
lUowed her, and went to the cupboard where bottles and 
lasses and cutlery were kept. She took out a siphon and 
^e whisky-decanter, and put them, with a glass, on a tray 
fith. these she returned to Harry's study. 
^Eleanor scarcely gave one thought to this— she certainly 
Id not give a second— and went back to the drawing-rooni 
■le would rather have liked to play the piano, but that might 
sturb Harry, and with a sense of heroism, though wantine 
I a sort of sympathy with his labours, to be employed herseW' 
ie set to work to add up household books, which had been 
itmg her pleasure for the last week. Then, suddenly, she 

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heard her name shouted from next door, and she hurried 
him to see what he wanted. 

" Darling, I couldn't help calling you," he said, " lust i 
say that it's started off, red hot. It stuck altogether f( 
an hour, and I was just going to give it up when it beirai 
Go away !" * 

Until half -past eight no further sound came from the studi 
and it was not for several minutes after he had been told thj 
dinner was ready that he emerged, ruffled as to the hair, an 
inkv-fingered owing to the villainies of a stylograph 

• Oh, Nellie, such larks !" ho said. " I simply could no 
go to dress. Do you think I had better wash ?'^ 

He leaned over her, bright-eyed and eager, holding up th 
stained fingers before her face. She could not help puttini 
her mouth to them and kissing them. She loved the ink' 
skin and all it implied. 

" Oh, I am glad !" she said. " Yes ; pumice-stone. There'i 
some in the bathroom. Do be quick, because I'm so hungry.' 
He did not keep her waiting long, and came back almost 
lyrical in the praise of labour. 

^^ " I can be completely lazy without being bored," he said, 
• and I can be fairly lazy and be convinced I am busy, but 
oh, Nellie, there is nothing so good as being really busy! 
That's what I began to be about two hours ago, and you've 
no idea how I enjoyed it. I mean by being busy, being eager 
to do the thing which you know you can do if you take the 
right sort of trouble. Give me a quiet room, and a clock that 
chimes the quarters, to show you how the hours go by in a 
flash, and a pen that streams, not necessarily at the side, as 
mine did, but at the point, with a torrent of the things you 
mean to say, said as you mean to say them." 
" What is the right sort of trouble ?" asked she. 
" Hard to explain, but I know the feeling of it so well 
It isn't a grinding effort, or a slogging effort, as when one 
IS working against the grain ; but, all the same, it is an intense 
effort. You have to concentrate all there is of you on a point, 
instead of letting your energy of thought cover an area 
You mustn't press— by Jove ! it is rather like driving at golf- 
you mustn't be violent, but all there is of you has to be • 
thrown into the one tiny place at the back of the ball. Lord, 
yes, Where's the champagne ?" 
This important omission was rectified. 
" You must drink to the health of the play," he said ; " not 
a sip, but a great mouthful. Noah invented wine, didn't he I 



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you think the Flood was sent to punish him t What a 
pessing he escaped, or perhaps the secret would have been 
"ist, and I shouldn't be enjoying myself so tremendously now. 
fter dinner will you play to me till about ten ? I think I 
kust go on writing again then. It is running a risk not to 
lake the most of the fury for work. It is like having no 
Kin-water tank on your house. The rain runs away instead 
1 being stored up." 

[ It wca delicious to Eleanor to see him thus excited about 
B work. She had had no doubts that the instinct of creation 
auld return again, but it was none the less delightful when 
came. Then suddenly the hilariousness of his mood changed. 
I" But it's a precarious affair," he said, " to make your 
relihood by contracting to amuse and interest other people. 
I bank-clerk or a tailor is a far safer thing to be, for you caii 
> on cutting out trousers or adding up figures, I suppose, 
bether you feel inclined to or not. But it's different with 
ie fellow who says, ' Now, I'm going to make up a story, and 
low you how it all happened. Why, he never knows from 
^e minute to another whether he can or not ! He may feel 
er so much inclined to, but perhaps It the bit of brain 
it makes things up — doesn't choose. Can you get at it, I 
^nder, as you can get at a cold in the head or a bilious 
ok, and stir it up ? Coleridge wrote * Kubla Khan ' under 
lium. But if you do much under opium, you soon cease 
[do anything at all." 
^eanor laughed. 

1 ' You will have to get rid of me before you take to opium " 
p said. ' 

r No ; I should be sly, and not let you know. I should say 

^as quinine." 

Ie looked at her sideways a moment, and for the first time 
I not frank with her, using apparent frankness to conceal 
absence of it. 
f' Funny thing this afternoon," he said. "I sat there 
Wy an hour, as I told you, and nothing happened. Then 
Juddenly occurred to me that I wanted a whisky-and-soda. 
kadnt drunk half of it before things began to happen. So 
p writing on whisky, which is next door to opium." 

rhen he became quite grave again. 

r Gosh ! I've seen the curse of it," he said. " By the way, 
fceard from him this afternoon — my father, I mean." 
Tlleanor looked at him with eyes full of sympathy and quiet 
lerstauding. 



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'• How is he ?" she asked. 

" ^®^oe«n't change much. He proposed payina us a vis 

am. and that he hasn't a penny to buy— to buy what he waTi 
I sent him some money ; I declined the visit '^ 

Eleanor got up and came round to her husband's side 
, «8 like seemg a man drown," she said. "And voi 

H^ou^igit "^P^"' *' *'' "^^^'^ y^" «^"^ ^^'"- I ^^nd^ 
" It stops him wanting to come here," said Harrv " Tha 
IS quite impossible. One can't-one simply cS?^" 

fl .f ;?' n^^' **"? "t^®', ™^®^ '" 8*^e said- " And to thinl 
tut It aU began m little ways ! The heaviest chains tS 

do anything." * "^^"^ ""'^ "'^^ ^°'" '^^ *^«- " ^e c^'t 

ir, "J?^ ^°? '"*° *^® tragical was not of long continuance and 
fht^ T* T^ *t?y ^"^^^^y ^°^«^S«d again into the ador 
able self-sufficing bliss of the newly married The clomK 
of the sunset hich Eleanor had watched from the comer o 
Si ^^ i"^"* t'^^^" ^" fl°°d« of the streaming rSTs o 

T^^'J""^ ^"^ *^°^.*^^ ««""d o^ **^« showersXL Zins 
their windows by the strong south-wester gave ^ fddi 
sense of rapturous isolation. To-night, too fnJtheTmmi„ 
intimate and hugely welcome, had ILn its SSl pS 
the new play was aheady beginning to grow3ertfa^', 
hands. It seemed not less tl^n a new nresenPfi fo Pi.^ 

rtd^\"erTh'?d^' \^'^^ '' fromXr^neVt^^dSra^^ 
reaa to her the admirable opening. It was thnn«», rC^-^i 

him. and thus admitted to s^are fheir e^n' nf a f L^^^^^^ 

had a hfe of its 5wn, and, though barely beSS to bTL f ull 

of vitahtv as the green erect hSms that the wS:rhS 

puts fortl^ m spring. But this reading of it broE up the^ 

iwfl, .T mtendmg to pay lim a long visit, Wd paS 

su.Z^'l-^'' hT' ^u Y^ absorbed, unconscious of aU external 
sensation, though from time to time he uncoLtilisly hTa 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



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jparette. But then he began to be gradually more and 
kore aware of the actual and material world, and of himBelf. 
W the thoughts which up till then had been so completely 
Btached, saihng hke baUoons through a serene air, put out 
^ It were, anchors and grappling-irons, which caught with 
rks and momentary stoppages in mundane objects. He 
M conscious of being cramped from having sat so lonjr in 
le position ; he was aware that the fire wanted attention • 
9 heard again the streaming of the rain on to the window- 
lines, and the rumble of veliicles in the street. He was aware, 
lo, that just out of reach, on the revolving bookcase to his 
ft, stood a tray, with siphons and bottles. 
He got up to stretch himself and to mend the moribund 
re and then, sitting down again, tried to go on with his 

u^' u J^^j**^® ^?°,^' *^® Po^®'^ *o take the right sort of 
ouble, had deserted him. Yet he had the power really : it 
las withm his brain, but it was just out of reach— only just 
A '^t^^^.o" *^e top of a revolving bookcase to his left 
: *u? ** ^*® ^° important to got hold of the play now. 
get that mastery of the characters that was essential to 
hea true dehneation. They had developed themselves (for 
i appeared much more that they were telling him about 
tiemselves than that he was making tliem live) so surely and 
orrecthr up till now, but as yet they were stiU not more than 
S'a^' j- ™at*e':ed more than anything else to get them 
^hd, standmg finnly on their feet, and, when once that was 
toe, they would be secure ; he could handle them after 
lat. . And five minutes later the external world had 
ftssed from hnn agam ; neither the revivified fire nor the 
jreet noises made any impression on liis senses. But the 
pay was within reach. 

Mrs. Ramsden neglected few opportunities of improving 

v«,>T.°r ^^?.*»d the minds of other people, and, afte? 

kJiiw ll ^f f«°t»8t next morning, for which purpose pri- 

Sh L!,? *^^,«o^e up to town, which, happily, left her 

nth nearly a whole unoccupied hour, she went, with a view 

Lrf f ^"^ improvement, to the South Kensington Museum, 

fclZnr ^^^u *^ ?^^. ^^""'^ «^« ^'^« d"e to lunch with 

l^^nt^i ? ^ -f ^*^u^- ^^^ ^^^ ^« particular bent among 

IZnJ: !? ' ^",'*?^ ^%^^ ^®" *o ^^^ tapestries as armour* 

C^h P«T'^lT- . Sculpture, perhaps, alone did not 

t wS?' * ^ • ^''J^""* ^°' *^^ «*"^®^* •• i* ^a« apt to be nude 
K>, Having paid her sixpence at the turnstile (it was re- 



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fi 
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pttftble thai this did not happen to be a free day), am 
having seen Bomethinff nude not far ahead, ihe tupn« 
abruptly to the left, and ascended the staircase. On the waU 
were hung tapestries and works of various looms : carpets o 
aU kinds-Turkish, Persian, Arab-the dates and desc^tioi 
Of wliich she duly read. And then she suddenly came to j 
•top, for, turning a comer, she found herself standing ii 
iront of a strangely familiar type of carpet— none other, ii 
lact, than that which liad been in the schoolroom at th« 
vicarage, Md which had been replaced by a handsome Kidder- 
mmster. For the moment she could not remember what 
had hap^ned to the displaced floor-covering ; she only re- 
membered the richness of the successor. Then in a flash she 
recollected her generosity. She had given it to Eleanor as 
part— part only— of her wedding-present. For there had 
been a splendid sofa as well. 

This was no time for small economies, and she instantly 
bought a sixpenny catalogue, which gave more precise infor- 
mation about the treasures of the collection. Hurriedly she 
turned up 362a, and read about it. Aubusson, apparently, 
implied a French loom of some importance, and this par- 
ticular carpet had been purchased by the Museum for the 
sum of £350. At this her weU-balanced brain staggered. 
inis seedy specimen opposite which she stood was not so 
large as the old schoohoom carpet, and though the old 
scnoolroom carpet was worn with much honourable use, this 
iramed and glazed specimen was still more frayed and down- 
trodden. But in other respects the two were twins. There 
was tne same centre of flowers, the same greyish ground, the 
same ribbon border, the same comer-pieces of &wers. It 
was not possible to doubt the authenticity of what she had 
given Eleanor. 

Mrs. Ramsden sat down on a little hard chair, her appetite 
for culture momentarily checked by this exciting discovery. 
Her intentions were clear enough: she meant, beyond any 
question to get that carpet back from Eleanor and seU it. 
JBut she felt far from sure that this would be an easy achieve- 

ST;«.. •.'^°'^*^ -^^ "H® F^*^^'^' «« «^« thought, to prefer 
hL^n '*' ^fJu'^fe'^ '^« ^^^ its ^al'ie. On the other 
hand, It would be difficult to lead up to its rebestowal with- 1 
out giving the real grounds for it : it would not be plausible 
to develop a vague and aching desire for it for its own sake, 
t„tW„i Tf ^""^ pnconvincing. such a course would not be 
trutnful. It IS not imphed that inexpediency had to be added " 



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falnty in order to ftrengthen Mrs. Ramsden to reject such 
course, but inexpediency certainly added weight to what 
rai probably quite heavy enough already. So she deter- 
■amed to be perfectly frank about it, and merely ask for the 
"pet's return. She hoped that Eleanor would be sufficiently 
•minded to see the matter in the right light, but she did 
kot feel at all certain about it. Eleanor's was a strange, 
lifficult nature. 
It was frankly impossible to get interested in carpets any 
lore, since one of them was so transcendently more absorbing 
[han all the rest, and she went on to the collection of English 
khma. After her discovery, it was hard not to consider 
Ihe specimens in a personal light, to wonder whether in the 
lupboards at the Vicarage there might not be new treasures 
pang perdu. Certainly a quantity of what was here ele- 
kantly set out in glass cases seemed of very common quality ; 
*< might easily be that at home lurked similar teapots and 
agar- basins. The hunt for culture had become a mere 
antern to guide her to the discovery of hidden valuables. She 
eemed to recollect an old dinner-service strangely resembling 
bna of Worcester manufacture, and gradually conjured up 
lie recollection of a mug that was intensely Salopian. 
She anived by intention at Eleanor's flat some minutes 
Bfore the appointed time, and, on being shown into the 
'*^"»g-room, saw the once-despised Aubusson. That 
)oked bad : it seemed possible that its value was known to 
tleanor. smce it appeared in this place of honour, and that 
Ine had not communicated this fact to its donor. Mrs. 
tamsden instantly opened the subject. 

"I have spent half an hour at the South Kensington 
luseum, Eleanor." she said, " and I saw there hanging on 
He wails a carpet exactly like tliis one, which I cave you 
lut of the schooh-oom." 

I Eleanor was sUghtly distracted this morning. Harry was 

lot looking very weU, and he had spent a perfectly ineffective 

?f v"^' ^"^^*-^»sly trying to work. 

Yes, it came out of the schoolroom," she said, not taking 

ine impbcation. " I was always so fond of it. Does it not 

|ook well here ?" 

Jfrs. Ramsden observed it criticaUy. " Do you know, I 
wdly tlunk It suits your furniture," she said. " Ah ! there 

li,^ i!i u ^ ?r® y°"' *oo- '^^^^^ l^' - suits the rest. I 
inould nave said you wanted rather more colour on the floor 
pm, indeed, it appears that an Aubusson carpet Uke this i^ 



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ttoi^ht^S ^LlS^n^lil; v^*^'?" S.'."» Poi"'. « 

'PKs- • u. ^****. *"®y ^^i* meant for." 

once!'''SidTe^''tffhi/f^' H /* tfken up and aold a, 
w wajnea about on. I never, of course " 

m^of i^^ won" '" * '^'^ I^"""- Ske m«le the 
in 'm^'iif T°';?^? ■"'*> " '<> "»' "Jnk "■•' I l»d that 

Eleanor looked at her with qiSet wonder. 

anyon:^tw„tTh7lLr^^-^'- ^""^.^^^" ^^^^y- " *<> ^^^ 
because iTm IL *w ^ interpretation of what she said. 

wh^t w/Ho^.r V ^^^ ^^ *"' "^y^^^ included, often sav 



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infiiutwimal at any rate to Eleanor, as a carpet, they were 
radically antagonistic. Eleanor for her part would sooner 
have bitten her tonoue out than used it to ask back a gift 
she had bestowed, whatever that gift was, but she saw quite 
clearly how reasonable such a request was, if the gift had 
been, as this had been, one which was not supposed to be of 
the slightest value. Only, and here lay the ditference between 
them, she could not possibly have brought herself to make 
a demand or give a hint of this sort of reasonableness. She 
cou d scarcely imagine making a gift that would cost her 
nothing, but if that gift turned out to bo worth a great deal, 
she could not imagine any attitude of mind that was not 
congratulatory to its recipient. The donor could not, in her 
estimation, fail to be delighted that something of value had 
been bestowed, whatever the intention was. But she shook 
her mind free from all such thought, as a dog shakes itself 
when commg out of the water, before she replied ; and there 
was nothing but cordiality in her voice. 

" But how exciting to find it is valuable !" she said. " I 
am so pleased. Will you sell it ? Or perhaps it is daddy's. 
>Ji 't it youra ?" 

" ifour father and I are not likely to quarrel over the 
ownership of it," said Mrs. Ramsden. " It will, of course, be 
sold. The one I saw in the Museum to-day was not so fine 
as this and it was bought for three hundred and fifty 
pounds." ' 

"Oh, then do persuade daddy to buy a motor-car," said 
i!-Jeanor. It would make all his district-visiting so much 
easier for him. Three hundred and fifty ! Just fancy !" 

Her husband came into the room at this moment, and she 
turned to him, all genial. 

"Oh, Harry," she said, "daddy can buy a motor out of 
the carpet. It was in the schoolroom at home, and it is worth 
Its weight m gold. Isn't it fun V 

He shook hands with Mrs. Ramsden. 

" Are you taking the carpet back ?" he asked. 

It was strange how awkward so simple a question could 

,. /-^ea^or mstantly smoothed out the difficulty 
\. * J j^*^^^' ^^*^'" ^^® ^*^d. " It isn't a carpet any longer, 
out daddy s motor-car, or something nice like that. And 

Mrs. Ramsden, was suddenly stung to a correspondina 
generosity of spirit. *- s 

" And I will give you a Kidderminster as handsome and 



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B^^'^^.Tt" *1^« ""r °°« I.Jought for the schoolroom," she 

Ske what tW«i; ""^ °°"^^' " *^^ Aubusson fetches an^hi^ 
luie what there is reason to expect that it wai." ^ 

a..S?T ^°°^«d at her again with that queer, short-sighted 

I li^nJ* ?1? ^J^*^ °^ y°"' °»amma," she said, 
mother weria'I^.'^'^-^^^i^y' ^^^ Eleanor and her step- 
iTnlrTd wkh H«^^^^ afterwards, while Lord Rolleston 
mouth f11S^^*u^°'''^^ ^ cigarette in his carp-like 
moutn. Eleanor had been at pains to give her miests a 

art'emlJrhad'b ^" *'^^, ^^« ^^ s^rTotly in^^on! 
ana everytmng had been excellent. She wondered if Mrs 
Ramsden would be mundane enough to be grat^^ 

came back'^n; 'U' ^/"■^''* '^^° already.-^she saik,' as they 
^avp „f „ ^^ *^^ drawmg-room ; " and no wonder, for you 
ZZZtlJ^^' "'^^^ *^^^ ^ '"-h- H-ever,' I sH 

. J-f^rP"" ™^^*oo^^ the intention of these remarks and felt 
a cluldhke pleasure in this appreciation of her hoTpTtk^^^^^ 

" Woi V V ^^^^ y°" ^^^ * good lunch, mamma," she said 
Was It really well cooked and well choseA «" 
bhe was shortly and decisively undeceived 

fift,-^ «T ^"^^1 °*1^°,^ ^*y ^ <^o its being well cooked " she 
S' , ^"^''^clean food is all I ever ask; but as to its beins 

rdiltT'and"°«f ^ ^°' ^' '^ ^°^* «^ choosi^g^that I shoZ 
^o,, iff ^' ^''^^^''^ yo" ask me, I must say that I reeret 
Sd m« ^ tT^^ *° '"^^ ^^P"^^^ «^^^ entertaining my father 
J?fV,?„ ;• "^y^ '^y ^""^"^^ ^«*n« are two shilliifgs a pound 

have thouThf^lf?'' ^"J^ ^ ^"^ pineapple-puddSf I sKd 
nave thought that apples were good enough I should nnf 

Fll^^."^ moment a shade of disappointment passed over 

w^ rer aaell'^'^^^^^ *^^ mtlelpTh 

thT iS hun,nrn,^f • '^'', °" ^^^'^^^ ^^ ^^^ stepmothcrf^th 
iRifJiii hi^morous irregular smile on her mouth which that 
lady did not always understand. 

you si wfbSh^rf^f °- y°" *3° *"" °^^'" «h« «aid. •' But 

aTCeVetd'f^fw5^trt^erb?5'"^^"^^ ^°^ °^^^^«- -^ 

Vica^afe'1naTi''f r'^ ^^'- ^^'"^den, " such as I have at the 
deSus dSh^ *^«^°«^«^o«f^ and cheaper materials into 
aeiioious dishes. If you would like to send yours down for a 



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couple of days sometimee, Mrs. Mytton will be glxi to giv» 
herlessons." 
The irregular smile widened a little on Eleac r's moutii. 
" That is so kind of you, mamma," she said. 
" What do you pay your cook, Eleanor ?" si;j csk'^n, 
" I think forty-five pounds," said she. 
" A year ?" asked Mrs. Ramsden, almost thinking she must 
have misundeistood, and that Eleanor meant perhaps & 
century. 

" Yes, a year. And beer-money." 

"Mrs. Mytton gets twenty-five pounds, without beer- 
money or washing. I see, Eleanor, that our ideas of what 
is right to spend on housekeeping are very different. But I 
hope I am too old to think of changing mine." 

In a small way at that moment Eleanor despaired. She 
tried eagerly and quickly to put herself in Mrs. Ramsden's 
place, to attribute to her all the excellent motives which 
might lie between the graceless words and the ungcnial tone ; 
to remind herself that her stepmother only wished to encourage 
her in habits of thrift and careful housekeeping. But, try as 
she would, there remained a solid sediment of something un- 
amiable and unloving. That her stepmother's words were 
dictated by a sense of duty she did not for a moment doubt, 
but she could not, alas ! doubt either that Mrs. Ramsden, in 
killing dead her own pleasure in giving her guests a good 
lunch, in being hospitable, in making them a little feast, felt 
not the smallest compunction for what was a very brutal sort 
of murder, since it was the murder of something Joyful and 
innocent. Indeed, perhaps she scarcely knew that she had 
murdered it at all ; she had killed it casually, as she might 
have trodden on an ant, not knowing it was there. 

Mrs. Ramsden observed that the irregular smile faded from 
Eleanor's face. Perhaps Eleanor was thinking about the loss 
of the Aubusson carpet, and she hastened to supply silver 
linings to this cloud. 

" As regards the carpet, dear Eleanor," she said, " which 
you are so kind as to wish me to take back, I desire that you 
should be put to no expense about it. Naturally, I do not 
wj It to have it used any more, and risk further damage to 
it. Indr^d, I see in it several worn places which I do not re- 
membf I when it was at the Vicarage, so would you please 
order it to be carefully packed and put away until I send for 
it. And please send the packer's bill in to me. I will make 
arrangements for gelling it at once, and shall then feel real 



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I see the floor is pi,„e^ f hj„ i?^"^™"?" """' "^vioeafe.' 

to oM d.^.'"^d"aSiy"^1^«°SoSX°"j".^^P"">''^ 
another carpet in «!»/.« ^*fu- »^^ougat of being given 

It was not wanted Thome A^a ^^J ^ ^^ ^^^^ 

all these plans " '' P"* ^°^- I* really is not worth 

whlLX^Xi^ou^^lltr^^^^^^ n"-« '^P. "that 

tere is papa and Hamr T^tl 4 ! S'" ^^"^ "* *« ^e. Ah, 
and theS I must be off/' ° ^""^ ^*^^ *«« °^i««te«' chat. 



CHAPTER IX 

Loms Grey had let his theatre for the performance of a 
children 8 play during the Christmas holidays, and Mvaa. 
dining one night, just before his departure for a month in 
the Riviera, with the Whittakers. The occasion was of some 
miportance, smce Harry's second play had been completed. 
md he was gomg to read it to the actor this evening For 
the last six months he himself had been acting "The 
Dilemma every night, as well as at matinees on Wednesdays 
and Saturdays, and he felt that his long-delayed holiday had 
been well deserved. But the booking-office returns had of 
late shown a considerable falling ofiE, and, though the play 
was not yet really moribund, he proposed, if the new play 
Buited him, to begin rehearsals of it at once on his return, 
ine last six months, however, had been extremely successful, 
and he looked forward, not only to his holiday, but to thia 
evening, with peculiarly pleasant anticipations. There was 
the interest of hearing the play, to begin with ; there was 
also the charm of an evening passed with Eleanor. For the 
last month or so he had always had a standing engagement to 
dine with them on Sunday evening, finding a greater stimulus 
and refreshment there than was to be got by spending the 
day out of town In a large and varied circle of acquaintance 
Mid friends, he knew of no one so infectiously full of vitality. 
Me had a flat not ten minutes' walk ofiE from them in Grafton 
Otreet ; it was pleasant on this cold, still evening of season- 
able weather to walk there, and his mind, in the holiday mood, 
!l fl j^^®^,*"^^ ^"^^ keenness of a boy Just escaped from 
the fixed tasks and hours of school. Enthusiastic aa he was 
in respect of his profession, his enthusiasm was by no means 
limited to that, and he brought the same appreciative zest 
to the enjoyment of the world outside the theatre as he did 
to the mimic life within it. One seemed to whet his appetite 
lor the other, and to-night he was to have both the social 
and professional side catered for, smce he was dining with 
this charnung young woman, whose husband was gomg to 



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read him a play. And though he knew he was not late h« 

rtTerLTl^ ^t^''^^ hislabitually brl^k'^^^'sre w! 
feet were taking him on 80 desirable ai errand. 

with tha^L^P; ^^ ^°"''? ^^^*"°" *'«««' *°d she greeted him 
with that wercome so charaoteristio of her. from its oomnlete 
naturalness. There could be no doubt she was greatly pTewed 

W7p'ed sJ^h'rnT ''"'""'^ '°' ^^^^^°^y- «« -' 
you t*lor"o'''""' ' '^^ ^"^- " ^^ "^ ^-^y *° ^-'^^ 

is 2 rh^t'iSt^f *4w.'''"«'*''' ^"^ '^' '^"S^S- " That 

onlv^W^hl^ "'* '^°'?'" '^^ '^^^- " That viUain Harry has 
only just this moment gone to dress. But it was in honour 

^wa^ fv ^»,f f^^ P^^y ^^^^°"<^ * pause since lunch^ 
always thought slavery was abolished in Christian lands 
BuUhe last week has made me think that poor Harry is yom^ 

"And the last six months have made me think that I am 
h^ remarked Grey. " Do tell me : what is the pW lik^ 
XXroSd"^^ Or should I ask those quesL^'tte 

th^^""?* ^""^^^ *^® ^ ^^*^ a ^«^e^ ha^d. as if equalizing 
luSratl^ratSeTa^r^^^ ''^"^^''^ «^^-- ^^ --^^' 

does hard work make you tired ? You doi't look as ^ It 

Sis fhouih ^nf "^ ^u"^ *^^'y *^«^ ^»d oross_oh. so 
Kvor^pli ^"^ '^^ ^°"^«- I *«" ^"^ I am goini to 
e^e%dlVt^S^.}r ^""^'y T'^^S' *«^ "^arry him^ain 
Jfr X;?w^ J?! afternoon. Harry darling. I've-'been telling 

^Z^®*^*"* certainly made a jubilant entry, sliding on the 

there ^ Aubusson carpet which had originally been 

nJl^v? *^® ^^ ^^"'y f®" <^o^n'" he remarked. " in which 
ni »^%'T ^^^ ^°^^ ^a^« fo"o^«d. How ^e you 
I^ms ? Is It any use my trying to make myself agreeabl J or' 
has Nelhe taken away all my character !" i^^^oie, oi 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 127 

'Not a shred left." 

"S°:''°vf°i!^- ^""y- Do I look dean ?■' 
Not a bit, but rosy " 

orama. J5ut, measles and all it's rinna r< ^""v *"«'o- 
have dinne. Nellie, is there no lady ft"! r°"^ °" ^ ^^* « 
Jhe looked from one to the other, and then took an arm of 

" Faith, hope, and charity," she said " Harrv i« fn^jf i, 
because he believes he has i^itten a good pW -^I'm & 
because I sincerely trust it is so and I^ CrL' i. ^k T' 
becaus^because L has come to dine wi^ us " ^ "" °^""'y' 

At great self-sacrifice. Think' I mmVif ^o« 1, 
dining all alone at this moment^the wit^i^i ^? J'^^'* 
the hSuse with the red blinds " "^^^ ^°P^^ *° d° ^ 

" What witch ?" asked Eleanor " ni, ^^ 

.J^ '°°^^ °^°? "' ''" tabandifor a momernikine a 

you would g,ve me a small part in some X IwJZti 

J^uS^«» r.^^oS™lSg"ir ^ '^ P"*"' = 

"Rnf T^/'?"'^ ""^^^ * tremendous success," said Grev 
■out I advise you not to try " ^^^ 

gSrS^l^^^at^roi^ ta-^TbiS 

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Oh, Harry, why tUd we meet ?" she said. " I might be 
on the road of a suioessful actress now, if it had not been for 
you ! As it is, I am an ordinary wife." 
Grev turned to Harry. 
" That's a good comedy line," he said. 
" No, tragic, Mr. Grey," said she. " I've given up being 
a witch to become a wife." 

" You were an admirable witch," said he. 
Harry laughed. 

"I suppose I must join in the Lobgesang" he said. " She 
18 an admirable wife." 

" Thank you, darling. And we are all talking exactly like 
the second act of the new play, only there tragedy lies below 
the comedy." 

" But you said that what I considered your comedy line 
was tragic also," said Grey. 

^^ " Yes ; but I should have said that it was farcical," said she. 
But, Mr. Grey, you haven't explained why you advise 
me not to go on the stage, though you say I should be a tre- 
mendous success. You can say exactly what you think, as 
I no longer have the slightest intention of going on the stage. 
Harry is there already, you see." 

Again the grave note sounded. Louis Grey looked first 
at Harry, then at her. 

" Because you are happy already," he said. " The only 
reason for doing anything in the artistic line is that you are 
unhappy unless you do it. It becomes a necessity. People 
take to it— those who really have to take to it^-from neces- 
sity. It is a craving, like drink." 

Eleanor leaned forward and struck a soft, precise blow on 
the table with her fist. 

" Oh, then I had that craving once," she said. " It was 
the night after I saw you in ' Wayfarers.' I knew that 
nothing else was worth doing except acting. Ah ! the 
real world was so much less real than the mimic world ! And 

then " 

She paused a moment, lifting her eyes towards her hus- 
band, while the queer irregular smile hovered on her 
mouth. 

" And then Harry recalled me to a sense of reality," she 
said. " I feel like that philosopher — ^who was he ? — wno, 
when he was told he was dying, said : * Quel perte irrepar- 
able !* He thought of the world that was going to lose him, 
and condoled with them. What a darling ! And I think 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 129 

Vr^^ferJi^J''^:^.'^-^'-^-^ ^ope they will get along 

own farce. But gesture aid Wh * ^^^^ ^*"«^ *' ^«^ 
supremely dramatid hTf wnr,i- ^^r'^®'"® unoonsoioasly, 
unpremeditated, bui f^e 2o ^Z\t'' ' *^f *«*^°» ^^ 
Grey, that inborn diitZfl^^tlL i, ,**^' ^° *^o»»g^t Louis 
her words. He hS^ noticS^"?? ^f^elf without thought, to 

m the daily affairs^lLhetainlt"/^^^^ *h« ^it«h ! 
But what he felt more than n.?^^^'* '* *^®«*y t'^es since 

fascination of the Sonalkv th^? 'Tu*^« ^'^^^^'^ and 
gesture and utterancT It wa.. .n ^*^. ^'^^ '^« ^^^^^'^tio 
dramatic by accident that ^f I ^^^"^^^ <^° ^^^ = she was 
the personality S'wa^;„fi'^*'7^ *»"* * Ao^er from 
bubbled, not o^n pZ'osrbut s^^'X£^«- ^^Z ^«^°»«d and 
nature of a fountain ^^ ^^^^'^^ «^« was of the 

to see you do it." Kat-Wife ? I want Louis 

She laughed. 

ask^f ' ^IZe hSS;thrsfu1?J'"' ' ^^^* -* '" «he 
undeserved reputatSn Besidl hS'TT' T^ ^« ^^^^ an 
in the family's dramrforfheW«1r' it^' ^^^"^ waUowing 
that was enough foTany b^dy " ^ °'°''*^'- ^ ^^^^^^^ think 

Gr^y^" «♦ Drmfc£ &^^r ^^ '^" ^ ^°- '' -d 

she'sIS! ' '«^K I said I to?,,?^/"" ' P'''''^ ^« ' to do it " 
to press me. so fam gZf ^^^^ "°"^d, »?f Politely bound 

pressing whatever." ^ ^ ^^^"^ gracefully, without any 






her. 
ing. 



b«,ugh^^^^^^^^ «-; on' S,t'- irJt-^' - ^— 't 

dental, hasn't it, Harry ? rSv f .^ ^^". *1"^*^ ^'^'^i" 
you a sweet httl^ confiding note to n,nS """^ «^''^S '« ^"t« 

would ,„u gi™ me«L^tear'„»ir„;a-/"d 

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are thinking of puttins it on ? But it would be absurd to 
pretend that I don't love doing the Rat-Wife, if you really 
would like me to. Harry, bring the copy of ' Little Eyolf,' 
which is in my room, and say the other characters ; also a 
cloak, dear — any sort. I shall forset all the words, Mr. Orey, 
but if I think for a minute, I shall remember the spirit of it. 
Aren't we being absurd to-night ? And isn't it fun ?" 

Eleanor put both elbows on to the table, and buried her 
face in the backs of her uplifted hands. Her wrists were 
turned outwards, from where Grey sat, while Harry went 
to get the book and the cloak ; he could see the pulse, a 
little quickened, beat below the smooth white skin. Her 
face was hidden, but her finger-tips made brown caves in the 
gold of her hair. And for a couple of minutes or there- 
abouts she sat there, completely unconscious of him, re- 
capturing the " mood " of the Rat- Wife. Half of his con- 
scious personality — the dramatic half — was charmed that it 
should bo so ; half, the ordinary man's half, of it was conscious 
of complete neglect. She was tuning herself to a representa- 
tion in which she was going to absorb her ordinary personality, 
and he, Louis Grey, was no more to her than the chair on 
which she sat. He, artist, know that that absorption was 
necessary to the little performance he had urged her to give. 
But — and this for the first time — he would have been more 
than satisfied if in that interval, while her husband was 
seeking a copy of the play and a cloak for her impersonation, 
she had looked up and said : " Oh, Mr. Grey, I really think 
I can't !" Instead, he had the buried face, the entire un- 
consciousness of him, and the sUm fingers plunged in the 
golden hair. 

Harry's return with the necessary accessories roused her. 

" I know I shall forget it all," she said, " though last spring 
I knew it by heart. Move the table a little, darling. Yes, 
that wiU do." 

Already, when she got up from her place and took the cloak 
he had brought her, her face had changed, and when, the 
moment after, she came back from the far end of the room to 
make her entrance, it was barely recognizable. That sweet, 
irregular smile which was so constantly wreathed on her 
mouth had become, with the thrusting forward of her chin 
and projection of her lower jaw, a thing scarcely human. 
The straight gaze of her short-sighted eyes was ever so little 
inclined inwards, so that a squint was just suggested : you 
could not tell if it was a squint or not. Her fingers, fine 



THE WEAKER VESSEL isi 

ii?tl?th*P*^^®' ^^ *"°**''^ themselyee, and trembled m 

voice spoke to them ^ moment her natural 

of myself. Well weU T' ' ^ ^^''^ "^^^^ '^'^ » «oo«« 
She entered again, and Grey stood up. 

pUcty and serio»ne» of to prLT'lHiT^S Jt S 



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he Judged and appreciated her performance by no kindly, 
indulgent standard set up by the professional for the amateur. 
She stopped halfway across the room. 
" You don't mean that ?" she asked. 
Harry got up from his seat, laughing. 
" Louis, I no longer accuse myself of breach of confidence 
in telling my wife what you said about the pantomime," he 
remarked. " You have told hor yourself now. If in a few 
months' time I am a forlorn and deserted husband because 
she can't resist the footlights, it will be your fault." 
Grey turned to him. 

" My dear fellow, what do a few deserted husbands matter 
in comparison to the gain to the world of an actress ? How 
self-centred you are !" 

But Eleanor did not laugh at these farcical observations. 
She stood quite still ; she remained perfectly grave. 

" But do you mean what you said, Mr. Grey ?" she asked. 
" I should be very imperceptive if I die' not," he answered. 
" You were admirable : you were the Rat W'fe." 

Harry laughed again at liis wife's stiiiness and gravity. 
" Darling, don't take it too much to heart," he said. " I 
am the scratching things wliich you are to send out to sea and 
drown." 

Eleanor's hair had got a little dragged Jown over her face 
by the cloak, and she pushed back a great heavy coil of it. 

" Oh, Harry, don't !" she said. " Mr. Grey, I am pleased. 
I should hke to shout, or laugh, or cry — I don't mind which." 
She paused a moment. His assurance of her excellence, 
gravely deUvered, had literally rather stunned her, Uke a blow, 
while for the dancing stars and lights produced by the blow 
she had the renewed vision of her own girUsh dreams and 
aspirations. It was as if, for her own amusement, she had 
written a story, and suddenly some critic had solemnly told 
her that she was a born novelist, had pronounced that she 
could build, and had built in sober fact, that which was to 
her but a castle in the air ; had declared her castle habitable. 
Then suddenly she felt that her mouth and throat had become 
quite dry, and, taking a step forward, she poured herself 
out a glass of water from the still uncleared dinner-table, 
spilhng the half of it on the cloth. 
" I am thirsty," she said. 

Grey watched her with more than an inkling of what was 
passing in her mind. He had nut said a word more than he 
meant, but for the moment he wondered whether he had uot 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 133 

better have said nothing, beyond banal words of appreciation. 
He i«memb<.rod quite distinctly his talk with ffany S 
t^nS^^?r^' ^" "1\»"i»»gne8» to let his own commonda- 
that^i^ ^'/^ '* 5"* ^* remembenKl also that he had said 
frZH ""* of djscouragomont will keep the real artist 

from the exercise of his gtft. Since then Eleanor had married! 

to him fK ' V ^u^^l *" ^^^ «"**j«^* h*^ «^er occurred 
to him, that her nature had sought the outlet wliich all strong 

^vftv 'ai th«'.TT*'^ ""^ the reason for her stilbess and 
if^f ulfilment ^*^"°'' '" '""' '*'" ^'^P^"* ^'"'^'' 

*n?!f^*** ^^^^u"! ^onstan^-y tluring tliis last month or two 
and It was for that very reason (since change goinc on before 
our eyes is so imperceptible) that he had not n^ticll how sh" 
was growing in womanhood and development. Her nalm! 
eaiety and cbldhke enthusiasra in the oy of life had mide 
Z'nf""''^^ ^r ^'-^ «u^^L«*'"' ^"* '^^ tli/moment, when his 

8h7warsw1 ^Th' ^^^ '"""^ ^'''' ^^ «*^ ^ ^hat depths 
8bQ was Stirred. There was a tremendous lot there Ivinir 

BkaTv tL^l*'?"^'",'^^''- ^^' '^^'^ developed ako phy* 
Bically ; the small pale face now, as she drank the water was 

3h H °^ T,^ ^^^"^ *>« °*'^« «^i^«nce of pKur;,^t 
could be capable of tragedy, perhaps 

AU this went through his mind with the instantaneousnesa 
W ^'^^T''^^^ impressions, and as soon as she ha?S3 
her wineglass of water she spoke again, as if the draught™^ 

" Oh, what fun parlour-tricks are !" she said " I thint if. 

SesT'of sharri ''^";* r ^'^y ' ^'' - 'hX- 

wS ? „ t*" ^*"y ^"^ ^"« ^^g trick now ? I wonder 
where we shall be most comfortable for the reading. dIS 
w your reom more than usually untidy ? If not^ we 3t 
Sd I a^ nf?r'' ^^.^'^^^ ^^''. ?''y ^*« ^"^''ke ail theS: 
^om in to Wcc^'. ' ''^°^^' "^^'^^^^ ^^*"^**-« *l^« dewing: 

It was settled, after inspection, that Harry's room was not 

t^:7en^;Lr'"^^- T''%^'^'''' ^«^* eonjeXre bameTas ^ 
the lengths to which untidiness could go, and, by the simolB 

expedient of putting whatever happened to be onthe cfi 

the S^l^^ nf "P*'^"" ?^.*^ r ^^'^«^' «P^«« was found fol 
the three. Harry occupied a big stuffed basket-chair close 



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imdem«ftth an electric kmp. By hie ilde wm • imaU Uble. 
S,S1tt»"k^'^'^^^ ^ ^"« «^' ^'^ ^ ^^ »»'^ 

41.^* *^ b«^P»ined for an almnce of technical criticism untU 
the reading of aU the three acts was over, and at the end of the 
tot and second acts Eleanor and Louis Grey, at his saffses- 
tion, behaved like "stupid people in the sulli." and chSted 
toffether ; for he held that the opinion of the stalls was valu- 
able in the same way as was the opinion of Molidre's house- 
maid, and ceitain of their remarks he Jotted down. Then, 
after a pause for the refreshment of the reader, he went on 
again, and it was already close on midnight when the last 
pa« was turned. Then Grey vigorously clapped his hands. 

It 8 good, Harnr," he cned ; " and it's a beauty for con- 
struction. But I don't prophesy for it the raging popular 
success of the other. * * f"*"*"" 

" Ah I And Nellie will tell you why.'' 
Louis turned to her. 
•• I feel certain you can," he said. 

"Unsympathetic heroine," said Eleanor. "She is nice. 
reaUy— I know that ; but she's got a crust on. Oh, Mr. Grey 
do persuade him to remove it ! She's not genial in little ways! 
and httle ways are so big." 
He nodded. 

" Yes ; that's it," he said. 
Harry groaned. 
.. b'^*.? I hadn't tried to make her genial !" he exclaimed. 
But the Creature won't be genial. She is like that. I'm 
not responsible for her, though I suppose I did teU you about 
her in the play. But that's what she is ! You micht as weU 
make the Rat-Wife genial !" * 

He got up from his chair and poured himself out a class 
of whisky-and-soda. * 

„"'^°!®' J'™ thirsty," he said, "with aU that Jawing. 
Hang It ! that's the end of the whisky. Hope there's so^ 
more m the house." " r 

II None for me, thanks," said Louis. 
T " ^^^J^^ ™©- You're going oif to-morrow, you say, and 
1 must have a good talk over this aU first with you. Now, 
you and Nellie are quite right in one way, but quite wrong 
m another. You say she is not genial ; no more she is. U 
she was genial it would have to be another play. You may 
ask me to write another play if you wish, but you can't have 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 135 

this play with • milk-of-human-kindneM h«min. ««i— 

sSl. fa a h^Z" • "^^ ""> UncontroUable saiVthat 

mi.tJ;,ll.hir J ' " ""f"'" " »■'"««■' tte help of the Cn- 
M«tC ^d ir^Tn V"? " r rf?™«l •' «ll ?he Mothe»- 

Louis looked at the clock. 

points that stnke me as wanting attention." 
Jileanor eot up. 

J^ ^uV T?^ ^ ^T^*" ^®*^® yo'* a'ld Hany, Mr. Grey " she 
said. Poor dear. I've made aU my critiSms oft renough 



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to Wm ! Good-night, and a delightful holiday to you ! I 
lookS Jp^ "" '°°'® ^^^ °^"*««' "^«»* reading L 

banish Miss Anstruther from your mind ?" ^^'^ * ^^^ 

LoSs'Sor '^^ ^*'^ "^ "^ ^^*^'' ^"^ ««* '^P q^ckly as 
theuLntlkw"" '"^^ """' Anstruther," he said; "it's 

consdot miidT'' ^""' " "°*^"« ^^« *^^ y^^^ ««»>■ 
;; What's that ?» asked Hany. 

directs u^.r"" ""Vf- ^^"^^ ^^^ °^ ^*- It's the mind that 
.f S ^?"* we caU instinct and habit." 

.. V J *?^®^ ^*"y- " By Jove !" 

^•fi,- ^'ii*? aoes aU the unconscious thinking that eoes on 
within all day, and probably all night. WhaTfou have done 

L^t^th^rfn^r^T^' '"^"^ ^^^«" «^ the thought of S 
l£lL sav« ^nn^^^ cl^f racter, and in consequence aU S 

Now can^ vou tMn^S '"^°"'"^ ,with-with^ Anstrutherine. 
and ;»S?h JZ? "^ ""^ *''y°''^ ^^«« *« Stella instead of her, 
?.X^l u "f""^ someone else in your mind go very care 

I^wL v?sS!L«^" ^^'^ ^^^^ ■ You have t?Jd 7e Tu 
f^rSF 71"*^2o y?ur characters acting. It micht be worth 

dePntl^tTStTe^Te^'^^ "^ '"^ P^°* ^^ ^^^-P^^^ -^^^ 
' I'll try anything within reason," said Harrv • " and fh^t 

trptrtrd'!.^- ^on;teUm'ewhoi:rtotSrint 
geiShtvTadlin -^^ ^J'r"*'' °^ S'«"^ ^° »" b^^t it« want of 

"' Yo^, wn?lT' ? wondered if it had struck him. 
^^ jou won t have to go very far afield, wiU you ?" he asked 
frn. 'Ju-" ^^^ *h^ "^^"«««' too." said Harb^ " Itl ouite 

a sour S: ^« *;T"'?"^'^"^.^ ?^"^« - --* wiyl^Skl 
a sour J\eilie. By Jove !-and he broke o£f suddenly as his 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 137 

^ekl^*^ '*' ^^^"^ *^*'*°"^ ^^""^ *^« i<Je»- He got up 

" You mean," he said, speaking excitedly—" you mean that 

JZ > "^l *a °^y UncontroUalle-un Jnscio^rmi^ you 

Sed^ t '^h^Inh-**^'^ ®^".* ^' ^'^'' '^^^^ that 
nxea, go through the part again. Well let's raa wJii^f 

hrst act and let me begm. But what an awful experiment f 

agam ? Anyhow, give it me ; I want to begin at oSce I feel 
-I feel there might be something to be done » 

Louis laughed at this volcanic impetuosity, 
if fnr Jt ^^l*®'^ minutes," he said. « until I've run through 
mnZ^ °*^^' PP^^I" ^ ^*^* *° **^t about. I'm off to- 

"^iT ' ^?n ^^'l ^° *^^ "^«* after I have gone." 
" T^i?!!^ ^"u* «? ^°*^ "^y good-night to Nellie," he said 
8h^ b«^n'^''-r//*'^" «^* ^ ^^ ' AU I know is thTl 

SthLTv^fh^i.'''*^^ ^^^ ^'^ «^^^- I »-^-« I -«h* <io 

adS^^^^hl^'X^s^rp^^^^^ ^^ -^"* *^ ^- --' -^ 

comSfto'led';'"^ «""' ""^^^y •" «^« ^«^«^- "Are you 

Z^^ darling neither," said he. « And when he goes, my 

Si worT'T. ^' • «°.* *^ ^^"^' *"d I'^ g«i°g to^ee if^^ 

it ?8 vou T^ ^-""V^ «° ^i^^^'^Sh Stella'fpart. imagining 

into I rr.l\^^"^^ ^ T " ^ ^an't work a little ge^alitf 

Ok h®' sympathetic." ^ ^ 

her foSLTJ'^PP^'^ ^Ji"' P"^°^«' and he came close to 
H?; IJSf ^ t™" ?"°? *h^ Py'^"^^ o^ her updrawn knees. 
Her arms were bare to above the elbow, her nightgown onen 

her S«n^'^' "S^^' ^" "°"^^ ««« the soft swell Tnd^bb^of 

tnfctLVandX^r*^^^^^^-^^^ ^^ ^^ ^^^^ ^-« 

She smUed at him, laying her arm on his. 

Ah, how proud I should be if you made SteUa sympathetic 

sureTd^^" ^"^ *^'"^^« ^* her as me !" she s/id.^ " Bi? 

Kready'"^°" "^ """^ ^''^S *^ ^'°^^ *°-^ght. It is so 

sam. The UncontroUable feels in working order " 

«lKnl^" }^ ^^?^ °^his other hand int^the c^ok of her 
elbow, gently stroking the skin. 



work 



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*u ft* • ^'®-**» »^»1 *»re." he whispered, " and I hope 
the Uncontrollable didn't hear me say that. But I must 
work if I find I can. I only Just left Louis, who is going 
through the first act again, to come to say good-night. Don't 
he awake, darhng, but get to sleep. I may be ever so late." 
I m not sleepy," she said, smiling back at him ; " I'm 
ever so wide awake." 

" I shall say ^d-night all the same," he said. " I may 
O) on working till any time. I must go back to Louis now. 
By Jove ! what a success your Rat- Wife was !" 

" Oh, Harry, I am so excited about it," she said. " Was 
he really serious V 

" Certain." 

He gathered her up in his arms, and kissed her with that 
eager violence she loved so. 

" Good-night ! Damn it all !" he said. 

He put out her light as he passed back into lus dressing- 
room next door, and she heard him go back to the study. 

The room was warm with the fire that had been mended 
not long before, and yet brisk with the frosty air that came in 
through the open window, and, watching the play of the light 
on the walls, she felt, as she had said, very wide awake. All 
that had happened during the evening tended to excite her 
and banish sleep— her own success with the Rat- Wife, Louis 
Grey's appreciation of Harry's play, and perhaps above all 
the knowledge that before long he would be busy at it again, 
with herself as model, putting kindliness and geniality into the 
unsympathetic heroine. It seemed to her, it is true, a some- 
what hazardous reconstruction, and one that might end in 
general confusion, or, as he himself had said not so long ago, in 
the writing of a diflFerent play, but the personal share she was 
to have in it was strangely dear to her. How he could manage 
It she had no idea, but she had long ago learned that the 
workings of that brilliant wayward mind of his were entirely 
outside her ken. Often during the past month he had plumbed 
the depths of despair at dirmer-time, saying that, though he 
had often struck and grounded on the shallows before, never 
had he come to such an unnavigable passage as this. Then, 
sombrely, he had gone to his room about ten, and she had seen 
hun no more till, on waking in the morning, she had found him 
by her sleeping heavily and deeply. Groans of the tortured 
or the dying would accompany his tardy waking, and, in 
answer to inquiries, " Oh, it went as smoothly as butter," he 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



139 



would Bay. " Can't think what the difficulty was. I am so 
sleepy." 

Eleanor gave a long sigh of sheer content, and spread her 
aims wide, as if to lay herself open to the happiness and love 
that made life the wonderful thing it was. Then, so to speak, 
she fell to picking little separate pieces out of that shining 
mosaic, and considering them singly. Though they were all 
set in content, it seemed that each of them was made of desire, 
and it was Just that which gave them their vividness. To 
begin with, her pleasure in the little scene she had played to- 
mght was largely vivid because the artist's desire for expres- 
sion, dimmed for a while in the great love-light that had dawned 
on her, was aglow again. She wondered a little whether it was 
selfish to care so much for a purely personal achievement, for 
she was quite honest enough to be aware that her desire to 

act was due And her brain did not trouble to finish the 

sentence even in thought, for she remembered a phrase of 
Harry's which entirely expressed it. He had Ji.st read her a 
very finely written little scene in his last play, aud at the end, 
"Oh, Jolly fine art," he had said—" particularly because I 
did it "... particularly because I did it. That was so true. 
Creation and expansion of oneself ! The bringing of fine 
things into the world, or the interpretation of them, anyhow 
. . . that was what the actor must do. He must be able to 
see beauty and tragedy and wit, and show them to the world. 
Yet, as Eleanor felt, she would be immensely content to act, 
to interpret, without any to watch and admire and criticize. 
Her own approbation, if she could earn it, w^ id be sufficient 
wages for her pains. Yet, yet what a glorious + '.ng to impress 
yourself on others, to hold the rapt theatre, make them un- 
conscious of their physical environment their wants, their 
hunger, their private gnawings and scratchings, if only for an 
hour or two ! 

Gnawings and scratchings ... she was back at the Rat- Wife 
again. But, thank God, there was no need for the Rat- Wife's 
services in this house. There was nothing that gnawed and 
scratched under floors, or behind wainscoting, or in cupboards. 
Thank God . . . and she suddenly remembered she had not 
said her prayers. 

At the moment an external sound interrupted the swift 
underground passage of her thoughts, and she heard the door 
of Harry's room open. She could Just catch the murmur of 
subdued voices in the entry, then the front door of the flat 
clicked and clicked again, and she heard very quiet steps go 



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been so much Im£ «^?^?t ?S*'"«> '^'^^' T^^^ ^»^« 
while he worketXn IySi\?re Z^^f «T ^7 *^" ^°' 

Wmsei w^ presenr V«°^!^^^^^^^ much more intimate to 
the theol^o?,? ^^^"^ ^' P'^°*^^®' ^"t «^e loved 

evf^si^ce she S ^Z ^T'S^ ? ^^ ^* «^"^«d to her that 
Her thoughts ab^ut he^^f^l? '^"i*^ ^«° ^^T^ng them. 

Wt of p^Cty £ the tho,^hf •? '° «lever-there was no 

that surely nf^uTt W hof she lt?dTmSh^^^""."T 

of her existence. She had forrSi^f ^*™ ^'^ *he veiy fact 

but all that so occunled Lr?. ? ^ '^^''*'''^ ^*' ^* " t™e. 

after aU, she th^S o1h«r Vf f'^"? "^^ ^* ^^o"^*- Yet 

her, although SS. was nn T^ut Tu^"" ^^^^ ^^^ «''od to 

gratitude. Beside? T tM« ^^^^^M^ey were aware of her 

wanted and wWas?i^ case there was so much she 

favour it w^ nSv.?r ''''* P^^'*^ *« ^«^ °*her people for 

.ye^aSthis^etd" '""' ^° *^^* ^^^ ^^^^ -vered her 

for eve'^^t&ng'' forridV'l'd^^ ^^"^ ^^•°^'^^^- ^^^^^ y«" 
Hany'splayyi^'soim^'^^^^ 



THE WEAKER VESSEL ui 

lw,'l^T '''Tt ^^™*'" *^® ^^d' " I am in earnest. I want to 

^ri'cWt W*h^ ^r^ ^ "^'^^^ '"^^ *^*^ I feel ^'^n>te 
?Ci« innS w ?^ ^°ir J*" ^^'^^ mamma, for instance. I know 
for nJS?' but I can't bear it. About the Aubusson carpet 

i^I w.n^;«- i^?^ ? ^°^'^'<^ '"*"«'' *"d I want toTeel 
I^^anrSJ 1^° understand so much that I hate the motive of 

wCl me^^Th' f^ ^?' ^ ^^"* *° ^««^ You here always 
d^Zr ^ *^ S"^®' *''".*^ *^ *«* *h« Rat-Wife, or eat my 
dmner, or— or be here with Hariy in the dark, lovintr eaA 
other. I want You to be behind it and in ft aU. TCw 
Si*"*' ^"* 17^°* t« ^alize it. Vou do let us all go wrong 
when we don't realize it, but not -.viien we do. But we are 
feeble people. And I want not to be feeble f I want t^hat^ 

?SuTaTerFo;r'"r^°/*^^^°^'^^«^^«'^^'^ 
i^^l I For Your sake Amen. Oh, and Harry's father, 
^i" thank you most of aU for Hany." 

P?Sl5^"*?*'^*'^'i^°'°''l?^''''^ ^'^^ °* fl*™« by now, and when 
Eleanor again lay down there was only a famt red glow on the 

smZ^^ -H ' immediate circle of its^Uumination^. She felt 
stil very wide awake, and got out of bed to put a few more 
coals on since Hany no less than she lo M the leap o^th^ 
flamehght on the walls. Yet even when . ' ^^ap 01 tne 
as she put the new coals on the glowing core, 

O, ye fire and heat, bless ye the Lord '" 
realized made all things sacramental. 

She got Uck into bed full of an intimate joy. Everything 

asleep together. It was easy to imagine that his pulled-dowi 
^:^1T ^t «^«"ider-that she l.as falling ^leep the^ 
When she woke m the morning he would be there, or before 
she really awoke she would subconsciously have divined his 

CS''^'.'^*^^*Q^^^*'r? ^'^^M^g ^^^ ^''"^d have pillowed 
herself on him Sometimes, while she yet slept, she would 
move, and 1^ half awakened by some Readjustment oTlds 
part which further awoke her, to find that he was stirring 
and thrusting a shoulder more conveniently for her. Or still 
half awake How often she had guessed at his hand moving 
quietly, half awake also, about the arm of his sleeping-suit so 
that he got free of it, and laid the touch of the smooth skn 
round her neck That made some artery in his arm beat close 
to her ear : with that dear palpable pulse, slow and quiet with 
the mommg beat, she often dozed into complete unconscious- 



chought of him, 

} said to herself : 

Something dimly 



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THE WEAKER VESSEL 



It was his heart-beat that made her happy and 



ness again 
secure. 

Z„Xl JSf ^f?^*""^ quiescence, and. in tune with it, Eleanor's 

£d mek^in?^ 1? °' ^u"^ consciousness that borders on 
ana melts mto sleep. Then quite suddenly she woke airain 

in ner ears— namely, the banging of a door. She had no id^ 

tj iS« '^^ ^ "^^P*' ^"* ^^^ «>o°i had become qiSte dark 
Mid, after one moment's startled confusion, sC^euS tS 

door hke that at such an hour. The door was evSentlTtSat 
of his dressing-room, for presently she heard CmoviJ^ 

n^«t :i . ^** ."P '"^ ^^' a^d waited, feeling vaimelv 
cTuW^be F^m hThTg what cause for 'uneasin^erS^S 
couw be. From her bed she could see a crack of lieht under 
the door of communication with his dressing-room^ 

Before long the noise of his movements leased altogether 
^iT]^''f^ succeeded Once she caUed to him. ^d oS«aS' 
Sty risS;'°P^**^r'l^*^«»^^^' but'withoTgeS 
STo? Th«r, ^^''J'^%,'*'^ sot out of bed, and tapped at 
nis door. Then, as she still got no answer, she entered tC 
room was brightly lit, and ht was lying f uUy dr^S^^eVento 

tit\'^f ??°t''r *^ ^«^- His fiS was uptS toward^ 
**»e hgtt, flushed and open-mouthed. ^''""lea rowaros 

For the moment she thought to herself, " Poor darlina Ha 
JTdsTwhl'^^^'^^-*^'^-"' Then he op^ne^^^^y^ 
^'HuUo, Nellie," he said thickly. " Bedtime-ia't bed- 
There was no possibility of mistake here. A sense of physical 

nerself m hand agam. Whatever happened afterwards ifc 
was no tmie now for saying or doing anythSig elcTpt wU 
the mere exigency of his state demanded. * ^ 

Yes, he down," she said. " I am coming back." 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 143 

She .lept Tmt litUe, and uneasily, and, in the inteml. „» 

M^,'MarSdt-l''Seo^iH£ 
Vital. But more than love was needed ; she had tXVfae ^ 

What She had seen and the memory of those day^andtW 
^d te S2 * ?T,°^ them-whe^he had sleput^* hea^^ 

accusation might have to be brought by W K he deni^ 

^n^^Sv'^rir^ ?^ ^ 1° • ^ ^« «*id that he had o^ 
been utterly tired out, and had Just dropped asleep on hZ 

SSjil a LT ^^^^'^ly ««dible that he sE^uld do tU b^ 
W ^t^S^^Kbat!^" ^^"^"^ ^^'^^^^« *^^* ^« «^o"!S 
heJS^tf'tW S,^®"^ ineflFectual moments she tried to persuade 
thS^ri ^ r*^ ""^HS ^^together too much of it HoS 
&fif* *"' ^^® ^^"^ *^** °^^^ occasionaUy did get dS 
wt nf ^hSTv^'of^" many habituaUy got dUk/but S 
iV^^S ^'^^^y 9^, comfort here. It was hateful in itself and 
m his case tembly dangerous. Then, again. aU her disCt 

SSJL"iL7e%ty'.'^"«^'' "^"-^°"^^«<^-^^^ 

She looked in again on him while she was dressing ^nA 

A^^'^f''^' h* ^H'-? the night he ZZtn^S 
ms clothes, and was lymg m Bed with one arm, as was 



m 

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SSt fwf ^ °"*'^® ?!? counterpane, with sleeve tolled 
Uok to the elbow. The blind of his window was drawn ur 

^Xi^ i f^ ?l °^**' primrose-coloured sun streamed iS 

5K^? 5" ?L*^^ '^T^''*' ^^ ^«^der whether the whole 
affair nad not been nightmare. 

Th«i she finished dressing, made but a poor attack on 
I^^*?' S^ ""t^* ^^ the*drawing-room tHttendto her 
nlil ' iT^^.i? ^"^'T *"/* *^® interview that must take 
ptoce. iUter a little while she heart! him go to the dining- 

away from the door. She answered quite naturaUy to his 
mormng greeting, and he sat down in front of the fire, as ho so 
often did. jnth tBe paper. Eleanor felt her hands grow cold and 
damp with the fear that he was not going to speaf. Somehow 

if hfL Th^""" l^i '' r.^'^ ^*^« * tremiiSous diflference 
.. T J . ; ^'^^^ ^^® ^^^rd the paper rustle as he put it down. 

I did an awful lot of work last night," he said; 
bhe could not open the subject Just yet. 

Did you, dear?" she asked. "I am glad. Will you read 
It to me some time this morning ?" 

II X®^' ™*K'- ®^*" ^ «®* ^t »ow ? Or are you busy ?" 
No ; these letters will do any time," she said. 

He did not move, and she went on writing, sick at heart. 
Are you busy, Nellie ?" he asked agai£. 

^^ No, dear ; I said I wasn't." 

" Then will you attend a minute ?" 

She laid down her pen." 

"Yes," she said. 

There was a long moment's silence. Then he spoke. 
I am not sure if you know what I am going to teU you 
or not " he said, " because I can't quite rememblr if you— 
I got drunk last night." ^ 

She got up and sat herself on the arm of his chair. She 
could not be away from him now. 

" Yes, dear, I knew," she said. " I came in and saw you. 

' 1 -1 ' *?\"^' i f ^ ®^ ®?^^- ^* w^s so disgusting to see you 
like that, and it is so wicked and so dangerous. But I am dad 
you told me." ° 

He was feeling wretchedly iU and tired this mominc • his 
nerves on edge, his brain fatigued with work, his digestion 
soured by excess. He got up from his chair, freeing himt^elf 
irom ner arm. ° 

" Of course if you take it like that," he said, " and caU me 
disgustmg and wicked, there's no more to be said." 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 145 

Ym, I agree ^u, y„a/hf, Mi" ^™- 

Tek^T.?*"S"'f 1'""" *»' "ke f«g»noe ; he wm en- 

wto mU, dea"PU ilt „?rt',5;°" '" **" »• «»'• But 

his next corieSon ^J^«' ^^ ^^ *»*^ *« ^^^^'^ himself to 

than usual. wLT I mean 2^SA T h?* ^ 11*" * ^'^ ^°"« 
gone to bed moreor leS Si^t aLi,*''^ ?^^" ^'^^ •'^*«»» 
that. You didi^ttoow that?" ^y^°^' ^ ^^^e told you 
No, I didn't know it," said she. 

didn't youTeCr'' ^°" "^'"'^ ^ *^^ ^^'^- "W?y 
"I only suspected it last night." she said " l?^«r, ^u 

I ^ ashamed of suspecting it '^ •^''®'* *^®" 

He gave a little bitter laugh. 

we4erfLSyrigt'"' "^"^ '^'^«^^' *^^"'' ^« «-d. "You 

She was quick to reply to that. 
^^Oh, Hany, you didn't say that," she said. « It is un- 

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«*t^?ll^*?*- ? "^ °»* "7 hMdneM in h«r that 
withheld them, for she yearned uid melted to make thinn 
eaner for Imi. But she could not, for hit Mke, oapitaJaie 
like that. His nutender had to be complete firrt. *" ""^ 

Yes, I am sorry I said that," he said at length. 

Of course, of course," said she. " It is unsaid." 
But stili she would not go a step towards him. He had to 
come himself. Then she distrusted her wisdom, for with a 

♦ 1^ 'i *i*^® *o^ yo" I am sorry," he said. " I have also 
told you that-that last night was not the first time. I don't 
toow that I have any more to say. I must copy out a good 
deal of what I wrote last night. I am afraid a lot of it wiU 
be Illegible. I dare say you will not care for me to read it 
you. now you know in what state I was when I wrote it." 

A j®.^®*^* ^ ^?^ ^®' ^*^ t^*' because he felt wicked. 
And though she showed no sign of it to him, it cut her to the 
neart. 

" ITiat shall be exactly as you please," she said. " I have 
some letter? I must answer, too." 

He went out of the room without another word to her. and 
she returned to her letters. She longed to foUow him, to make 
the advance to him which she knew he would leap at, but her 
determination was absolutely unshaken. He had to be 
abased further— not before her. God knew— but before himseH. 
Bhe toew not less than certainly that this was so. Her whole 
soul beckoned to him, but it was he who had to come. 

An hour passed, and she heard him leave his room and 
come mto the haU. For a minute or two he must have stood 
there, and again she wildly, lovingly beckoned. Then the 
door of the room where she sat was opened and she looked 
round, thmkmg that he was coming toW, as she must have 
him come. But the door was ajar only, and he stood outside. 

cA, u j^5* *?i? *? lunch," he said, and closed it again. 

Stiil she did not flmch from what she knew was right It was 
not by making it easy for him that she could help Sm best, but 
by standmg aloof tiU he Joined her again, j^r was it easv 
for her to make it difficult for him. Had she cared less, she 
could have aUowed herself to make an appeal to him, to irive 
mm pity and consolation and encouragement. 

But because she cared so much she must withhold it till he 
cave hiinseK completely up in order to get it. And she knew 
how he felt, so weU, poor darling i He " lay choking in his 
pnde. Pnde before her, too I lliere was the ludicioS thing 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 147 

hidioroat «nd to lutiual I For E]«uior wm oM.tmmhin^^ *« 

niiiS^ ^iw** ' *'"^. •ft«n»oon. ^H of cheerful little 
dJ^to?;J??? ^"" going down to Bnusebridge in two 

hS to iri^*orfS??n; f :? ?'?""*■ ^ *o be ohos^ She 
varioM SnH. S J! ?'J delicious combination of squirt, of 
2S hL5S^2? fe,?***^"'*** ^'^^ bathroom in their Absence • 
J«o Harry had bidden her to select for herself a iSf^ 

lunch sat m unusual idleness in the diawin?ivlm ^r^ 
bnllnmce of the early morning hS oVen S^f;^?' w ^5 
ooudy afternoon, and the ^oomS^^^X^f^t^^ 
night of the earlv afternoon.^ But it diTnotSe^oSL SS* 
to turn on the efectric light, for theJeTas noSihe wiSd 
to do. She was tired of thought too for ♦h^t ^ !?^ 
situation as she might, she coXot^'e iSt^^as'ZiW: 
to do diflferenWy. fiarry. no doubt, would w«nei^tirLH 
norn^rr? ^^ ^^^^^^ things, ^he mustT naS^d 
?hf^L V"^ fmf^ reading the corrected piyto hSr 
sue must be mterested— as she would be-and oriLS fS 
appreciative But there would be a cuS^tiJ"^!!^?*^ 
She hi^^J? the curtain but it must be h^ho^S^t' 
f^t}^ *^° u«^J^ ""J °°**^? ®^« *" these houra. but shThid 
to reject, as she h«i rejecte^at first, any initiativ^ on h^ i^ 
flf°T ?^ ^^'^ • ^°' his own sake he had to show it ^^' 

tiirny''!'^ "*'"*' " "**^ ^ ^^'^ ^"^ Nellie ? ShaU I 
chS. ^^^^^ °^ suddenly, and came across the room to her 
"Nellie, I am an utter brute," he said. 

«g?^ r'c,;'"^;;,^ tto'^' -^ '"• -' ^^ "^ 



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THE WEAKER VESBEL 



;; Pm damnftble/' he said. " Bat I w»nt to teU yon •» 

Ah. my dew," ihe said. " of oonna you are ior^. Yom 
WMitinff to tell me WM all I wuited." / "* 

Hit bonertv endoned the molution he had come 



namely to teU her aU. how it appeared that euoh good work 
aa he did wm dependent on these degrading conditions, and 
to"!ldSh*ld^* ^^ ^^" ^** " •!»««« ter " urged him 
" But that is not aU." he said. 

" ^®r*?® other times, you mean V* she said. " Harry, 
dear, I don t thmk I want to hear about them, as long as you 
know you made a pig of yourself, and really intend not to be 
a pig anv more. I suppose I ought to scold you. but I know 
▼eiy well by your tone and by everything about you that you 
have been scolding yourself. Darling, you deserved aU the 
scoldmg you could give yourself ; I do not want to spare you 
one word of it." *^ ^ 

It was getting harder for him every moment. But he made 
bis effort, and with success. 

"Oh, it's not only that." he said. " It's much more than 
*?^*l ™"^S, ?^??® complicated. Now. don't interrupt me, 
Mellie. It'll be hard enough to get through it at all." 

He turned himself about, so that he sat with his face awav 
from her, looking into the fire. 

"I don't want to justify myself." he said. "There's 
nothing to be said for the habit I have got into. But the 
matter is that I can't write unless I've been drinking. Drink 
—I don't mean getting drunk— sets something loose in my 
brain, that which we used to call the elf or the Uncontrollable 
And when it's loose— venr often Just one whisky-and-soda sets 
it loose— I get so keen about my work, that I Just must keep 
It loose. And that means drinking more. So it goes on 1 
dnnking iiwtinctively and working, utterly happy because I 
know I am domg good work, and that the best part of my brain 
w active. You remember my reading you ' The Dilemma ' in 
the schoolroom at the Wilkins' ? And how you put your fincer 
on certain bits of slock stuflf ? AU that, Just that, and nothinir 
else, was written without— without help. All that you 
thought good was written with help. Often for a week 
together I determined to have no help. In consequence I did 
no good work. Of course, it was a rotten plan to trifle with 
such methods at aU. but it was so easy to persuade myself 
that I would Just finish this act. or Just finish this play and 
that then I would give it up. But I am ashamed, f dare say 



. ■—i-JJ ■ -i r- 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 140 

JJ5**S^** »»•▼•»>««» if it luMln't been for ImI night, and the 
fact that you W I've got into • morbid c5»5tion ; at 
leMt I rappoM that ii what a doctor would say. and at pni^t 
L riZ'\^?SS'j;**f' ^S^ .timuIant.^'B;?thaWt 
is cSr • iiriAl 'Tfr ''^"P certainly work bert when it 
!J t^u : °' *^/ '®"°^ ^*»° ^^ ff^ ^OTk, I luppoie. do 

I tS^k/ "*'™^' • **^ '^ghf . re.t. That's ifcout^S? 

^?'*'n.r!l"*' question any more in Eleanor's mind how to 
•«t. The wise course, now that Harry had told her everv- 

I^ w^'i** '^"i^y ^1«°*'^»' ^ *»»« loving one sfe 
SS ' "^ *^^ *''** ^**' head, and kined 

I. Ji ??ii,^*'?7' ^!»?t— ^hat a hell of a time you must have 
Slfl.^* T •• u ^ *? ^ •^"y' »>»* I do wist you had told 
Tk«!??°,!r J r^ r ? *^ ^^^^'^ °»« »* o'^^e. before we married 

S^e b^C^S^lP" y°" ** *^« ^«^«- «<i yo- °^»»* 

" But I had to write ' The Dilemma,' " he said. " It was 
oo,Th iJL'^*"\? '*• *°.** "^^8 it as good as I could, that it 
I hil ;L7 * °^*°'1^ of success. And Without that how could 

^, ® *^* y°" ' ^o t you see ?" 

Eleanor gave a long sigh. 

aJIv aV^V'^'J!'^^ .^? ^? ^°^«'y i^ yo'i ^»*d told me right 
awaj at the first." she said. •• I should have understood I 

S^ 8?^® * ^*tle quiet tender laugh. 

.«^ T ?r' y*''? "^""^d ^^e *»*a to have said, ' I love you. 
and I want to write a good play so that I cai^ marnr voS 

i^tlZK^ "^t * «°°^ Pu^y '^"^^^^ I g«t drunk.' andTaUow 
i «hnnSlSf ""^ *^r ! "^i^^', surprisini speech. But I tWnk 
Tha? ™1£?- ^ "^im^. ^°" «««• dSrlil^I loved you.™ 
2S^d now" ^**«'*^^« *o understand. ** Anyhow. I uAder- 
"And what's to be done now ?" he asked. 

hul^'r^uX't'endff- """ ^""^'°" ""«* ^^ "^ 
f^r ^i'/u''",*^'^?'^ ^^'^ •" «^e said. « Of course, I'll do it 

?Snl wSf ^"'^^"Z ""^ ^^ '^^ ^°^ either of us. We shaU 
fc^irf? ^^"^ ^^*JTy °^ '^'*^^°<^« ^itl» their beer-money 
th^? f1!i5^ °*u «f * ^^"^ r*^ '*' *«d we can't. And whej 

that he works best when he is most clear-headed, you wiUnot 



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SS^iJ'itr "^ ^^* "' '^'^ y°« •" •* you, bert 

^ be Jar^for you. You must expect that, m^,^"^' ** 
« And If I find I can't work ?" he wked. ^^ 

Xver:- ^^^'^^^^'^^^'^W be nothing to conquer aild 
eyerl^"^ " '*^ ^ "^'* ""^'^ ^" ^^ «»^^- " « i* goes on for 

Br^lT^^^7tS *^^ ^°"y^f imarining difficulties ahead ; 
wi -V^i. K^; they pro ved to be there, it was no use losinil 
^ ?* *>"* *^^ore they had to be dealt with. ^^ 

parent. But never use up your patience before vou feel 
mchned to be unpatient. When difficulties come itTt^e 

tW^ K t^™ ^ '^^ ™- ^ *t«°' ^* ^ b^ noHJ 
rStto W Sfi-tev ?^°".^^' y**" "o absolutely determined 
t^mi^I^^-'*°^°'^"'°''y°"- That is all that mattew 
tois moment. Kiss me, you poor dear darling. That's ri^t 
NowJ^shaU go and telfthem to make som^^ leZ^^i^i 

He burst out laughing at this. 

" Tell them not to make it too strong," he said. 



CHAPTER X 

About a fortnight later Harry Whittaker was sitting in 
what had been the schoohoom of the Vicarage at Bracebridge, 
as dusk began to close in on Christmas Eve. Eleanor had 
gone out walking with her father after lunch, and, since this 
was an institution, so he gathered, that was of the nature of 
a nte (for Eleanor had before now mad** reference to " our 
Christmas Eve walk, daddy ") he had a ounced a fine and 
mdependent intention of stopping indoors and doing some 
work. He had been doing some work all the aftem( )n, and 
at the moment he was tired of it. The work he had done 
WM entirely represented by a blank sheet that lay in front 
of him, and a couple of dozen tom-up pages, some half- 
written, some with only a line or two on them, that lay in 
crumpled balls in the waste-paper basket. To-day, in fact, 
had been a repetition of the last fourteen days, and the last 
fourteen days, in consequence, had not been very exhilarat- 
mg. And each day as it passed was rich in its own depression, 
as well as in the cumulative effect of those that had gone 
before. They were not beginning to get lighter ; they were, 
on the contrary, becoming increasingly more weighty. 

It was not only that a mental fever to work possessed him, 
but he knew that within his brain there was all he wanted 
to write, while the road to it he himself, by virtue of his resolu- 
taon, had made impassable, but he longed and craved for 
drink in itself, for the general serenity and exhilaration it 
produced. In a way, however, that craving, though it gnawed 
Mid disquieted him, was of the nature of a safeguard, for he 
mew that the acuteness of his desire was proportionate to 
the danger of its gratification. About that he had no illu- 
sion ; if he was to break the habit and quench the strength 
of his weakness, he was conscious that Eleanor was right, 
•nd that it must be done by drastic measures. Sometimes, 
it is true, he tried to persuade himself that all he wanted was 
that moderate allowance of drink that the vast majority of 
mankind indulge in wiihout danger or damage, but, until 

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conddS^s^tf tobJlon?f^?i!^' '^r knew that he must not 
these re8i^"?CX^lHrr*°»?i°ri^^ 
own sakefwas »cuS his SL t ^^S'! ^?/ ^'^. ^^ i^ 
He was quite honesf ^ fi^^ ^®^^ *o »* ^m unshaken 

M far as VS Sone lt$ c^noZfi"\* ^ *«"^^« himsTthTt 
cope with his cravhJCl lu*"® '^'^ Perfectly able to 
for here was the ph^ w5ch E *^ ?*^** ^»« concemed^ 
by the time thatSs S ?^ ^i, *^ *^*®'^ ^^^ amended 
that first long night ^\^^ Zl^l ?T®' *°*^ hitherto, after 
habit, he h^nTdoi^hjtti'f ^ ^ ''^«^^' »S 
to be done ; somehoTorfir fn ,h«*^^^'.^ ^*- ^"* »t had 
he made ready for L h «^ ^ *?® '^^^t fortnight it must 
upon it. «S3Yad pro^^ tTat'Tf'^ * '?"^ «""^^" '^dVZl 
by the end of the S^k i^^jlSlfr^^'^ ^"'^^ *^ ^^'"P'^*^ 

iXTnet'b^ trfr r» -^-' ^' 
for a couple of hours ^n^.u® ^^' had sat together 

themeanrwherebyThe^^^^^ T^^^' ^^l 

dramatically marehauJd^ Th ^ ™T °^°»«^y kmt. mori 
cussions had been^Ki^ i^^f explanations and dis- 
the pointe tharSm^&^7^^,h^m at the time ; he St 
to him to be no difficX^'^fffi** *^ ?f *^® t'™® there seemed 
difficult of the SgXat SS^'Sf i^""^-. ^^ ^*' the mort 
duction of geniaUty S» th« -h^ * °''*'^® "^"^ *^® hitro- 
had thought of Wa^M^a! ^Jara^ter of the heroine. He 

that he wi to t£Stk^f t^W^"' ' 5 ^^.^^ deeid^ 
that night that had foUowed J^^fr^i^^u^;;'^ *5« *hree hours 
worked with zest and sucrss o^M-^'^^.^'^i^^^ ^'^' he had 
transformation. Now aS tC ^ ^°^ - ^^'^ '*®"''**® 

fusion, for he couWnot fiS^h the i?s/T '^"i^ ^ '^^^ 
there were two short scenesthat a, h^^iJ^P*'*^ from that, 
them, required rewriting LtreV?!.!^^ ^^^^^ 

They had to be conceived rn/Xf ?T>' ^"* rewriting, 
"uost a half dozen pales of n.ff"*^'* .^^^*^'^^%- At tfe 

required but those few faUhrdriS'P* Tj ^" **^»t was 
agam. As far as mere S.^Li ^ ^ '^ created, not modelled 

night been a P^tZo{^a^^'''lZ'''\ I'- ^"^ «^^« tha? 
and evening, ^th everv^f^*^' .""*« ** his desk mominc 

buttherightstTsSrefStoa^iP'^^T^^^^ "«t^* «S? 
aa he sat in the dusk ifSr f 1 , '^\ And this afternoon. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 153 

of inebriation. Next eveW fh.^ f^ ** *?** sottishness 
worked again, have 8to3*W u ^^^'y* ^« ^O'Jd ^▼e 
a few 8ucE niihte woS3^C«^°J! 5\^«c«ne helpless, and 
As it was, he hSi ZntZl^®'^**^!^ ^^ to finish the p^ 
tection. BkL^or I«K;JS'*i,^°'''^-*« *^« P«i^* of Z 
of trying toTateh Wi^ &^r- ». ^^ ?<* not^ccuse her 
liniits of moderate in^ca&{;H\*'*^ overstepped the 
had seen him. To^KS^t'"'* '^^' *^*^®' ^^^ ^"-^"ck. 
him at this moment ThLlTl? ""T^^J^ »PP«»^ to 
the whole truth. He wis W h« LJ^^^^^'^ii ^^'' ^^^ *«W her 
far better if he hS (K«M, • "* ''^^ ^* ^o"^ have been 
and tl m, J^hewJtZ ^t^"^^^^^^^ ^^'^ on the play! 
totally alitained m he wL^H^-^ wilhng and anxious to^dJ 
the civinrTo d^ fhJ ^T« ""P^' *"' he had conquered 

his desire; it append To 12: ^^^^ «« 'sympathy with 

intended and dS to conque? it TI, f. *?^. P'«"^« H« 
play. Already Loui^ Grpt h22 h ?"* ^® *^*^ to finish his 
for it, on ac Jui; of thrUaftiL^Cr ?,*^°'^«?'^d pounds 
had earned nothinc tUl h7l Tc- ,^°."^^ ^^^""^ '> hut he 
scheme which taS'^^d ttlkeH f"'^'i ^* ?" *^« ^^fi^te 
he had received the m^ne^lnH h.T' ^J* *?« ^^^^^^ hand, 
that side, anyhow h^iS';^ *? 'P®""* * "ttle of it. Oi^ 
np till now aU th^t he had t^T"* * moral obligation, and 

waste-paper basket. Tte pletho^^^^ '*' ^'^^^""^ ^^ «* 
his efforts not of to-dav nnlJ^ w ^ *^®^ «*^® evidence of 
hours, but as to the rZks S h,Wff t.^^^l'^^?* °* ineffectual 
unsupported testimony ^' ^^°'''' *^^^ P*P«' ^^s the 

^^^^ZTr^V^ZTe^^i''^' "^T 1"«* »--. ^or his 
more than the Sort onThlchTl^'^^'^K*,*^** ^**^««^« «> ^««h 
of his dejection 10^ sZ^h. f^fT J^^ssoms, and the pit 
was a good tii^T'^Z^^^^^i.^Sh^hove his head. It 

remained, as it had Wth^eiSf ^ ^"5- ^>* ^^ perseverance 

however, 'it mustlf^S^m^^^rtt/d ':"""• ' . ^"«"' 
work by a certain date «.nH L^^t • P">mised certain 

though he had S« 1!' and with a grim determination— 

furthi Xrt just now wl» t"^' u*°^^ ^'"^'^^ *hat^y 
for the tweSieth time\m!«"S^^«««-:;he "* the candles and 

topof hispage ShTente^ -fh"^ ?°*"' ®*«"* " »t the 
to speak. * ^*®^ ' ^^^'e she was. Now she had 

^es. yes; faintly an idea shone in his brain, dim. like 



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distuit summer lightnii^g ; but then Then there came 

on the door of the room a smart, eager knock. 

He laid down his pen. 

" Come in," he said. 

Mrs. Ramsden entered brightly. The schoobxwm had been 
assigned to him as his study by her kindness ; it was to be 
ms room as privately as his own room in the flat, and no one 
mieht enter without his permission. 

' f"*^' ^*"y' ^^^'^ ^®* °*e disturb you," said she ; " but 
as the servants are so busy I thought I would Just look in 
to mend your fire for you and draw the curtains. Don't get 
up ; I should never fomve myself if I thought I was inter- 
niptmg you. You will be all cosy in a minute. Don't speak ; 
don t think of speaking. I am Just the housemaid." 

She advanced eagerly to the window, rattled down the 
blmd, and, with a Jingling of their rings, swept the curtains 
together. It was impossible to sit still and not speak, as he 
had been told to do. 

" Oh, thank you so much," he said ; " but, indeed, I can 
do it myself." 

Mrs. Ramsden paused. 

" Now I am really distressed," she said. " I have inter- 
rupted you, and I wanted Just to go in and out like the house- 
maid. Will you have some tea here, Harry, so that you 
©Ml work on undisturbed ? Shall I bring you some tea ? 
Eleanor and her father have Just come in, and tea will be ready 
in five minutes. Let me bring you some here !" 

It was all he could do to be polite in answer to those amaz- 
mg hospitaUties. For the last ten days, ever since he and 
Eleanor had arrived, he had been the object of Mi j. Ramsdan's 
sedulous attention ; she was always wondering whether this 
or that household arrangement would not disturb Harry's 
work, or whether he would not like dinner a quarter of an 
hour (or, say, ten minutes) later, in order to get in a full two 
hours writing after tea. Yet it seemed to him transparent 
that Mrs. Ramsden did not ever like him. She was only 
doing her duty colossallv. 

But he declined her offer with fair cordialty, and she hurried 
downstairs again. . . . Enter Slella. . . . Enter Stella. . . . 
And then the bells of the church Just across the garden broke 
out mto cheerful and adjacent clamour. ..." Enter Stella, 
Enter Stella," exactly fitted the descending scales, and they 
announced it with the air of triumphant discovery, as if 
nobody had ever thought of ihat before. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



166 



He pushed the blank page away from him. Somehow or 
other these two scenes had to be written, for the objections 
Louis Grey had uiged against them as they stood were vital. 
Also, he had got to finish the remodelling of Stella, and he 
could do nothing with 'er except make her enter. And 
between the irritation at the impotence of his brain and the 
mwjking Janele of the bells, he was on the edge of loss of 
self-control ; he could have sc eamed or broken furniture in 
the exasperation of his nerves. Instead, it was time to go 
down to tea, and Mrs. Ramsden would say, " Two lumps, 
Harry or is it one ?" She had said that twice a day since 
they had been here, and he had always replied, " No sugar, 
tlwnks." And she would say that her head was apmg, 
whereas it was as strong as teak. ... o o» 

Eleanor came upstairs with him after tea, as was her 
custom, to smoke a surreptitious cigarette. She saw from his 
brevity and studied politeness in public that he was putting 
some strong restraint on himself, and forebore to ask if he had 
made any headwav. She was not left long in doubt. 

J® ^»d another encouraging afternoon " he said. " All 
the afternoon I s^t in that damned chair, and what do you 
*^,fl^^te? 'Enter, SteUa'! Pretty good, isn't it ? 

Tuf /!*°*® ^*' *^*^ P^® i* you for a Christmas present ?" 

The bitterness of his tone was not new to Eleanor. She 
hated him to speak to her like that, but this evening he was 
overcharged with it. 

" Oh, Harry dear," she said, " I am so sorry for you. It 
IS hard, working and waiting " 

*• Try it yourself," he said. " Sit down day after day to a 
thmg you know you can do, and find yourself unable to do. 
You can t say I haven't tried. I should Uke to see you in my 
plMe. It would be interesting to see how you behaved." 

El^or put down the cigarette he had given her, still 
unlufhted, and, coming over to the fire where he stood, took 
hold of the lapels of his coat. She felt not the smallest resent- 
ment at his rudeness ; it was not Harry who was rude; it 
was his nerves that were rude, a thing as outside of himself as 
a tooth that ached. 

" You know that if it were possible I would take all your 
discomfort and depression," she said. 

" Ah, that is easy to say since I can't give it you." he 
observed." 

" Perfectly easy, dear, because it is perfectly true. And 
you know it. As regards the other, I wish you would frame 



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wnnM ^o®*^^' *?*^ «'''® '* "*• **»' * Chrirtmas present. It 

bel^vSl^^ "^^^ "'^'^ '*^'^* ^°' y^*"' »°^ toV weU yoS 

"I'm behaving charmingly now, aren't I ?" he asked, 
one smiled. 

she'S' ''^';,/l!?!i* °°! °* y°"' "'**^ *»""^»°* moments," 
sne said. But no decent woman wants her husband to be 

smoothed over and polished when she is alone with fim^ 1 
In? T ii If ""l/"' .*l® advantages of being married. You 
m*lL K-.^ ^^^""^ **^" ^*^ ^^ o*l^er, and it doesn't 
?«« L *• ^*"8« ^e understand. H ever I feel thoroughly 

C?o^'jt\«'*- *^-1 *^°"^* ^^ ^* ' Why you. of couT^ 
lie looked at her m silence a moment 
^ ' Poor dear Nellie !" he said. 

wf S.W i *^ ^?i' *^.* ^ *^ ^°* ^ **»e ^eas* *o be pitied." 
He Jerked his shoulders free of her hands. 

*.^ J^""" *r.*° ^ P'*J^'" ^'^ ^^<*' " ^ause you think your 
experiment is succeeding. You think I am going to get aU 
ncht and produce work on lemonade. I shan't get rieht 
There 8 somethmg wrong in my brain. Good God ! howIeHvv 
tne ordinary man whose brain goes on ticking reeularlv like 

oft^^S? *"t ^' "^' ^«V ' ^^°* ^ ^ w^dTpr^ioSs 
^ w ^^V ' ^***P ^®^ ^ *"^ ^°"°<* «P- I've sto/ped for 
a fortnight now. Tlie hours don't strife: nothing rtrikw 

f hlf f * ^^** '''?^ ^^ i° ^7 "^^i^ somewhere, nicer^hfn 
that aamned peal m the church-tower there. But they nS 
as weU be dumb-bells instead of bells. By Jove ! td a 

tTe"^i'o^°Jt • ^^^ ?^"- ^'t' d'lmb-bells. do you see ? That's 
the sort of thing I'm capable of. Why don't you laugh ?" 

Eleanor had during this last fortnight, beer/througf a good 
dealof similardreanness. It had tired her, am. ithuitherS 
ever-increasmg acuteness. For the first time .he faltered 

Th«n -h? if^' 't® 'l'"*' . ^ ^^^^ ^ °^"«*^ °ior« like ciying." 
^en she knew she should not have said that. What Tie 
wanted was to be braced, not appealed to like that But 
before she could remedy her tone, he had broken in. 

« AU ^°" . *,^^® y°"^ experiment either ?" he asked 
darnt^'»^«T *^.i°°^>«g a* it altogether in the wrong light,' 
darhng she said, " when you speak Uke that. Supposinc 

r.n^Vr"'^^°« ^^^^^^ that demanded a paiSSS? 
ment, which was sure-was sure to result in a cSre. DoTu 

shE't Uf °"'^ ^'^' ^"^"« y^." «^«' ' I^ *hat Tense ? 
shouldn t bke any experiment. But in spite of that I should 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 167 

love my experiment— I having penaaded you to onderao the 
treatment— when I saw you getting better." 

And do you see me getting better ?" he asked. " Does 
my work to-day, Enter BteUa,' for the twentieth time seem 
to you fuU of promise ? You talk about it being sure to 
resultin a cure. Where do you get your certainty from ?» 
^^ ine smile slanted on her mouth like a ray of sunlight 
A man cannot become a drunkard if he never drinks." 
she said. Mav I not take that for sure ?" 
He shrugsed his shoulders. 
!! And I show signs of improvement ?" he asked. 

No, dear, but you will " 

She broke oflf suddenly, and trouble stained her voice 
sullying Its clearness. ' 

" Harry, what would you have me do ?" she asked. " Would 
you, the you ' that loves me and is loved by me, would you 
actually choose that I should say to you : ♦ It does not matter : 
dnnk all you will. There is nothing to fear ' ? If after that 
you sank, and became, yes, became what your father is 
would you not rightly say to me, 'You connived at my 
damnation'? And what of me ? I should have desecrated 
you, and I should know it. Do you want me to do that ? 
Are you parading your dejection to me in order to make me 
reconsider whether abstention is wise ? If that is your idea 
teU me so. Or if you don't trust my Judgment, go to any 
doctor you please, teU him the whole story, and ask his advice 
n he says I am taking too serious a view of it, you shall have it 
your own way. But it would still be against my conviction." 
Oh, doctors, doctors !" said he. " We all know what 
advice one can get from doctors. One says tobacco is deadly 
poison, another that meat is, another that wine is, another 
that a cold bath is, another that a hot bath is. If you will 
go to a dozen doctors, and cut off from your way of living all 
that they collectively say is bad for you, there will be nothing 
left for you but— but to go up in a balloon with no clothes on. 
and breathe deeply." 
She laughed in spite of herself. All his vividness was there. 

.u. ,. ^°" ^^^ °*® yo" c*'!'* *^l£. and you can't phrase 
thmgs !" she said. 

" I can't when I sit down to try." 

" Ah, go to a doctor, Harry," she said. " There may be 
some simple nerve-tonic which you want." 

" At four shillings a bottle ; Scotch. Of course, I'll go to 
a doctor if you like, but it's no use. He would tell me to do 



i 






IM THE WEAKER VESSEL 

Ih^teU^'^K^^^^'^^' I Jpo'^th^t quite well. He would 

xnere s another thinir, Eleanor " he saiH «» Tf»<. ♦!,.•- ^i 

vSA tf -/t"***® '^*'** ^^^'^^^ *^e» w of my getting throwh 
Thil''* ,'/ '* 8° on «« I have been doing ! • Ente? StX^ f 
t?e «l*"°L?^ fortnight's work that 4l stand up to £U 

lor a week past. But it has got to be written." 

front oThim."^ "'*'''*^' ^ ^*' ^^'•' ^^'^ »°°^«d straight in 

* L^^^I'^y" ^^ **'^' "I should thmk it would take m« 

• couple of evenings' work to complete it. wJhout woricSJ 
rSnS't^T^^- ^0««^*rily.1mean'. iSS af^r SSf 
8ho^nnfii^K^.'^*''^^*^^°^°'«°™® ^oeks. Indeed I 
S if ^ ^^'^^ *^J y^". ^^'^ ^*^a* rehearsals mwm^en 

worK Detore it can go mto rehearsal at all." ^^^ 

whftl^rn * •'*! ""u* *^r5- ^«' ^on^'^ion sense, or at any rate 
what can fairly be caUed common sense said ''I^f him J«7i » 

ate n"^^?^^* ^r ^T'^ thancomm^n^S^eX^/*;,. 
ate negative. She could not argue about it • if fhe hf^^?^ 
she must have been worsted. S the matter d'dn^s^T to 

" B^JZ S^e Tt%y ^°^^* '" «^^ -^^ »* '-«th: 

Then common sense mocked and eibed at her tt*. ».«^ — m 
the work would not need to be " 4^™." .^ shf h,S1rt^ 

balance of his control altogether ? To-dav his7nnHvS^^ u 



THK WEAKEB VESSEL ]{( 

w^imnl^. "■* "^"^ ■»' "• >»i«PP"l«»W thl. 

" You would not see me." he said •« if n i ™— j* _^. 
Iijx)uldBleepinthedreMikgSJom." **-»* ^ ^^ d«gurting. 
Oh, Harry, as if that was it f" she mM «« a^m^i 

" It u not 80 wiong," asid aha yehomentlv " Von k... 
been pMTjnted fulfilling your pfomi« by the'cure tbSt^I! 

8h!"hr'herhl:i'^°"^°°""''™''«»"^8"'»~id. 

;; What about the piay, then, foUowing your plan ?" 

fh.f^ °^ *!y«»«- Oh, my dear, don't you s" i^s bV trrin« 
that you make your character ? A man'o «k-]» * .»>y t^ymg 
of his intentions and Ws^hofces." ' character is the sum 

Harry looked at her sharply, then went to th« *ai>i« j 
began turning over the leaves of his pUy ' •"** 

fi,-?"?'.?*y *^** *|f**^' Nellie," he said. "Whv thaf»- 

they intend to fail." aespise them when 

«« ^^f Jf q]" nH i^^^y ""^ *^« «^eet on which was written 

That s a httle off the lines," he said. " A manhM faHo^ 
let us say. It is too late. What do you s^^ h^ S«^ 
You a woman, I mean, who loved him " ^ ^ ^ **^®'' ' 
*i. ", 1« Jiever too late," said she, groping eaeerlv i.*f^, *i. 
thought he wanted. He shook his fcad^ ^ ^ *^' **** 

Copy-booV'hesaid. " Besides, it is too late." 






I,. 



160 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



•• But it is never too late to try again.'' 

whaf r,JI^ 'Ta ^ T^f .?^ y°" °»«« ' By Jove f thafa 
wnat 1 want. Admit the failure, « that it ! Look it iW*ll 

Sfdr TLn;L':?i;f ,?^.*\: '^^^r «^tTZi nSwyoJtS 
BWdit. Thanks awfuUy, though. What an asa I was not I« 
•8k you sooner It isn't done vet : don't tWnkthar^bStit^ 
possible again, I see it's po«,ibfe. Go away, NeC"' 

thSwSr«;r*''sK''° '^^''^ ^^'°?^^' »»d »«d« » -ilent. 
tnanwul exit. She was more than willinff to ]mv« *uL 

±W r~"*y,of>er position und2cS^1f ^nlXcoSd 
reinforce his reso ution by a practical demonstration that h2 
powers of mvention were not determined by Sol W 

oeen she lelt that, if only he found his creative facidtr no* 
utterly impotent, the gain made these dayf^d thSrX^ 
won short and insignificant. True, the Sum wm not S^« 

^ouw"no7r " ^"^f ^'' ^^' Paper^asketSeTsu^ted r 
would not dream of putting this evening in the cuptewd of 

tt tem'eThiS°^Th1 ^^ "*^''"^ * iresh'sSZ^ to 

iZ rlioTiLdc^^suT^ ^^eZr^:zL:iv^:'^ ^j 

en^ui^gement. the fiist that haVZnl IT hSn^'^oTthl 
present m any case, she refused to contemplate the ^^ 
Bihty of further days of frost and blackness. There wL?W 
m the air ; the empty pages had begun to be filli KthI 
face of spring she went down to the drawing-room aTd in 
her hand, alas ! was the cigarette she had^^t ^t lit Her 

srrrtrjt£!L5rc.^""^°^ '""^^ -- - proC'd'asf^' 

The centre of the room was covered with a white sheet on 
d^orat7oro?rhrh '"'^"S^^ ^^^ ^°"y' for'he cSm.S 

tzzs^, th:ir'sig:'r' '^ ^^^p^^^^^- -^ ^- -- 

Ch^s^ma^y r °°^^ ^^ ^«^P'" '^^ --d. «' I do feel so 

*n^; ^^'fi^T *^S *?^?'' ^ spectacles during this last year 
and found that with their aid her sight was al Jood m e^r' 
She saw the cigarette in Eleanor's hand. ^ * 

" Eleanor," she said brichtlv. " wonW iro., ,v.;„^ 
smoking in the drawing-room^ fhadT dea'^TneTharSjl 
views-though, I dare say, you have heard me expL? them 



THJi WEAKER VESSEL lei 

but not in the dm^SJiiS;;' Vl^no^M^J^S^ T" ' 

nimblv got 5 from hroC^and^ov^S"' -^^ 

with hot buminff coals covered the odious weed 

into the haU Ym El^Sn? 1 ^^ *^® wind.wr and move 
know h^w^elcomTyoiXiv?ri X" ""^ *^^'P ""' ^ou 
for us. I am iZ m^n^^^Z^f^^^^rV^ "P^^ ti«»e 

Btudy. I musJput pfeSrorTuy nto i? ^Tf **^?'"^:; 
you are making the wreath for fh^ ^^ i ^^'^^' ^^' ^' 

pleMe give rime oUhiluy *ou h^: put™^^^^^^^ 

and yew wiU be ample for me"^ '^ ^*** *** ^"'^^ 

hapmr about iV' ^« *»« «ot to work again. I am so 

asked Bfo.^Ra^3er'^%*»/ '^^^"' ^ »»« »ot ?" 
Hany best ; b?t wmetimes L ""^' ,^,'^*"°''' ^^^^ ^now 
do^^u not thSk re wor JoitS r°' '^"^ *"^ *'"»^' ^^^ 
rest M^Ll'l^ri^^^^^^^^^ " I mean him to take a 

that'hetok;sfa?fg,VweS''°' "^^ *" *^™ y«"' Eleanor, 
baliTher^Z'"^' "^ ^'^ ^^^^ * «P"« ^^ ^ew to the 
Bhe'iS'*'' • **'" P^' ^^^ ^y ^ »>««» »>°*hered and worried » 

mp^\^. Z^Ln^ ^?? £i "«' ^ ^«Pf '. Eleanor ?" inter- 
study is absoKy pS'vate " ^^"'^ '*"*'* ^"^^^ **»** *^» 

11 



;^«l 



ii 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 

w»t Hany had the loenM quite planned, who waa to hm th^m 

That is to me most curious. I am sure I could not make^ 

d£^Li ir^^,^ *^ 'J*' ■*» ^'^' »»«* I do not see tS 
Jffloulty of making the characters talk when your Say to 

^IT' ^^"^y, ?• Hamr-veiy cleverly, TiJi^SL- 
makes them a}l speak just like oidinaiy peopfe." 

Eleanor adjusted a piece of laurel on to her wreath " I 
ii^iffi'*'i*?P' **l**i5 **** difficulty." she said. ^m«m. it 
ipik thaVif whv*^'^ '^^ " ^." °"^n person^^dd 

jf^WtvrhTp'^uS^^^jrdj.' ."" -"^^ • «^ p^*^- 

«,nnrf\w°5**®*li'!r' »,!^«' b«ath With a little hissing 
TiSJiii^* n®"°tf** ^*'® unlikelihood of its happening to *«? 
^^h^ij* "i^**' ^"^^ expressed the prope? diso^g of 
such a situation, she changed the subject: * 

Aff^r ??°'f™^''.^^«»».i ^" ^eiy much run down one year 
after Easter," she said, "Dr. fiarris recommended Vra 
Z?h'^L«^'' of BuiBundv at lunch. I do Sorusuil? 
^^ V^v'}^?""^^ I am glad to say I am not so narrowii 
to thmk that It may not be of use medicinaUy. I ImoV vow 

i*te ^ V •^"'^ ?'"""^? ^""^^^y ; I will Lk hi^ t^ ?z 
a bottle this evemng, and press Hany to have a glass ThouS 

I see that he looks rather run down, and as he like I doii 

Sh^Sn\-^" ^'^'^^y, * couple of gis of Bu^dy 
nught do him as much good as they did me " ^ 

Eleanor dropped her wreath. 

" Oh, please don't." she said. " Harry has quite eiven ud 
wme, and he finds it suits him so muS^ better ItTve^ 
V ^ ?• y?'*' "?an«n». and-and I am sure Hany would liS 
It but indeed it doesn't suit him ; indeed, it doZv' 

Fli5.n.''S'"S*^"^ ^^^^ °H* *8*^ »* tJie moment, and 
Eleanor heard the scoop of a chair in the room directly above 
where Harry was working. ^ "wve, 

•« T"J?^UV!*^'^**f,V^^ °^? *^°'" ^^ Mrs. Eamsden. 
T h^Zf^^^A ^ "^1^" ^?r 5"^^^^ ^'^d «««% I worked after 
fin^S^'^u ?'• ^^'"f ' directions, wherea^before I us^ to 
find It difficult to concentrate my mind. I was writing a littla 

simS J Y ^^^^i'^* ^i«« P^tice in English com%sition. It 
seemed to flow. Had it not been that the funds of the Giiild 

were vei7lowatthetime.theywould probably hate printedrt^ 



THE WEAKaR VESSEL 103 

hmdkerehlef. ""^"^ «ea • Hard knot in her pocket- 

•meU of tobacco. I hopS?' ^•"''' **"* '^"^ **«' 

Harry sniffed eamestlv and enenmticaUv Thai* «- 

to weavA 4a^^ ♦K/»„-i. Vu i*j "f™^y » Bubject on which 



UO. 



I'as r.n 




JitTy^. but S^nX'^Kyo'u i'X.mote'^VS 



;, 



•i-ii 



164 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



PI" Mamma was saying you looked tired, Hany," she said, 
"and veiy kindly sus^ested that you should have some 
Burgundy at dinner, wmch once did her a great deal of good. 
I told her that you had found that wine did not suit you." 

" Oh, I see. But it is very kind, and I should immensely 
like a glass of Burgundy, to congratulate my brain on having 
woke up again." 

Mrs. Bamsden untied the knot in her handkerchief. It 
was so tight that her strong, rather prominent teeth were 
brought into use. 

" tfames shall give us a bottle," she said. " I will ask him 



•> 



now. 

Eleanor and her husband lingered behind a minute after 
she had gone, and Alice, like a tall, blond lamb, decked with 
sacrificial wreaths, went to erect their labours. 

" Oh, Harry, as if I could have !" she said. He was ready 
enough with ms regret, keenly felt but instantly swallowed up. 

" I know, it was absolutely absurd of me," he said. " On, 
Nellie, the play has started again, and went beautifully till 
those — ^those blessed bells began. I say, I have persevered, 
haven't I "i I've broken the back of it, too. I've waited 
until the Uncontrollable came again without help." 

" And you're going to reward your perseverance at dinner V* 
she asked. 

"Yes. Why, the thing's done. Besides, after all this 
Buigundy talk, and my sUly speech to you, Mrs. Bamsden 
might — might think it odd if I didn't. She thinks things odd 
very quickly." 

There was just enough reason in this to make Eleanor 
wa ver. 

" Yet I would sooner you didn't, dear," she said ; " but I 
don't want to be foolish. Oh, Harry, you look a different 
person in the last hour." 

" But I am," he said. 

It was the same different person who went back when the 
others retired for the night to the schoolroom, alert and 
oager to work. The whole smothering burden of his in- 
tellectual impotence had been removed, and, by this fort- 
night's refusal to stimulate his brain artificially, its normal 
activity, which he had lost carelessly, though, perhaps, 
culpably, had come back to it. How wise had b^n Eleanor's 
drastic measures ! how negligible, if he had been allowed to 






THE WEAKER VESSEL 165 

foresee the speed with which they cured him, had the dis- 
conrfort of the cure been. Before he went down to dinner, 
he had returned to this room to read over what he had 
wntten, and to see if the UncontroUable had indeed awoke 
^pwi, and It appeared to him beyond question that it had. 
At dmner he had taken a couple of glasses of Burgundy and 
found that afterwards, when Mr. Ramsden indulrod in his 
usual moderate aUowance of port, it was possible to look on 
mthout sense any longer of craving privation, of desire to 
pour out a tumblerful and drain it. and, though he longed to 
be back at his work again, the hour or two alter dinner was 
passed without chafing, so sunUt an affair was it to feel 
himself capable again ; then, as once before, he had toW 
iiileanor that he would probably be very late. 
^^ And don't think I even want the beastly stuff," he said • 
whereas, how I have raged before to see your father drink- 
ing port. He didn't even offer it to me to-night, as I never 
take It and I didn't want it. By Jove, wasn't that Burgundy 
good, too ! NeUie, I shaU have two glasses of Buijundv 
once a week for the future. IshaU! Now, good-night, yoi 
darling— you darling !" * ^ 

He went back to his room, settled himself at his table and 
be^ to wnte. Half an hour was sufficient to finish, and 
hnwh with the first of the two scenes that had to be rewritten 
and with the same sense of power and certainty he took up 
the dehcate work of remodelling the character of Stella. R 

E^li^r -Sf^^ ^''^^ Kif^ ^i* ""'^^ geniality ; it had to be 
JUeanor. The action of the play was outside it : it was only 
that the events happened to a woman round whom sunshine 
hovered msfcead of frost. And to-night even this difficult 

*^?;^r!S°'' T'^f ^ ^y- He heard Eleanor's voice in 
the little interpolated sentences that meant so much. Some- 
tunes, as he thought a phrase over to himself, Eleanor'- 
voice, which rang in his head, would refuse to echo it. Then 
he tried another ; again, perhaps, she refused, but at a third 
attempt, made not duUy and hopelessly any longer, but with 
the certainty that what he wanted was accessible, he heard 
ner agam. 

-fi5i®i°T ""f perfectly stiU. When he had come up- 
stairs. Mr. Ramsden had gone to his study, where they usually 
sat together before bedtime, over a pipe for the oni, and a 
gass of whisky-and-soda for the otW; but an hour ago* 
^I^^* • ™^^ conscious moments. Hany had heard l5ni 
go upstairs, past the room where he sat, and along the passage 



n 



166 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



beyond. Nothing could come to diaturb him, and time was 
of no ftioount. He could work tiU morning, and would, if 
tlU8 fair ^d contmued. Perhaps, evenTho might finish 
to-mght. U not since there was stiU a fortnight before the 
rewntmg must be finished there would be other eveninas 
as rapturous as this in front of him. 

Midnight had struck long before, but it seemed to him. 
when the next smgle hour stirred the air, that the tweKS 
strokes had hardhr ceM«i to vibrate. With deliberate in- 
tention, he laid down his pen for a minute, and let himself 
reahze how momentary this hour had been. It had gone 
in one flash of achievement ; flowed away like honey dripping 
m a strmg from the spoon, while below, to show its passaae 
toy the wmotftted pages, like the little curled sausages of the 
flowmg honey. That was a good image, not useful for his 
present purpose, it was true, but stiU worth remembering. 
Everyone, who had anything of the chUd left alive in hiiS. 
would recollect the nurse helping him to honey or treacle . . 

gfascmatmg httle curled sausages of honey, melting into the 
aol of honey already there Then he heard in his head 
leanor saymg it : " Oh, it's like being helped to honey ; the 
string of honey that goes on to the plate." ... And he tuined 
to his work again. "tuuou 

He could not catch the thread of it at once. Twice and 
tnree times he tned to capture the mood. Somehow the 
rnood was not close to him now ; it had moved oflF from him 
like a shunted truck Or was it Hke the string of honey 

W,vf ^^? * ^.rH'^*^ V"^^ «^ * ^"^^^^ string o^ 
honey ? Which was it hke ? In one case the spoon was 

suspended ; m the other the engine puUed away agam 

P«!?f ® c??^ection was broken, anyhow ; it must be mended. 

Perhaps, d he read over the last page or two, he would take 

But what next ? A few moments ago he knew. Now he 
faiew no longer It was irnpossible to leave his work like this 
If only he could feel the thread in his fingers again he would 
be satisfied. Stella had got to be like El^or^^he h^ to 
be kind gemal, and Eleanor's voice, ringing in his head had 
to say the speeches ; but Eleanor's voice was no longer there 
J!.!«v 1-?® * ""^^^ hstener at the telephone, like a shunted 
truck, hke a plate on to which the flowing honey drips no 
longer. Once let him establish the connection again, he would 
be so much more than content with his ni^-ht's work 
By his inner sense of time, the hour sixould have struck 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



1«7 



luarter 



and he looked at his watch, to find that but a 
It was past. Then be began to remember other 
cmnffs ; tnere was a book he had left in Mr. Ramsden's study, 
^«25*- ?^ "^^^ ^ **^® upstairs. Perhaps a little 
wChe^had S °^«^«°^«nt and change, might recall 

He took Ws candle and tiptoed downstairs. On the table 
ZTJ^ ^ ^® '^^^^' on the table also was what also he 
wanted. There was no struggle, because within him there 
JSL^'Z 7«istance. He poured out half a tumbler of spirits, 
T;tt* ^u^t *°? 7^*h,«>da-water, and drank it in thre^ 

&^u ^4?®^"*°^ ^^^^^ ^'^^^ *^athi8 habit was broken, 
Md that there was nothing to fear. There was still half a 

f£^„k;1? *"'^'?i®5 "^i*^? ^yP^*'^ ; ^^ ^^s matter thirsty, and 
thought he would dnnk that. But soda-water, soda-water . . . 
If It had been lemonade it would have been different; there 
was a certain crispness even about lemonade. As it was . . 
Mid the spirit mounted swiftly to his head, now unaccustomed 
t^Jv.i. "^ '^'i'? 'l^® r''* upstairs again, his hand starving 
wl £f P^°' .^" *?** b"^ "^^ ^^kSi oflf remended itwS 
He knew exactly what he had forgotten. 

For another half hour he wrote brilliantly, the hand- 
writing a httle blurred from haste. Eleanor's voice rang in 
hw head, hke a remembered song. All the little additions 
S^«^?I sentences seemed said by her. Then his pen 
dropped from his hand ; but it was not the dulled brain that 
dropped It It was the Uncontrollable that had finished. 
He knew the feehng quite weU. He sat there a little while 
longer, m that strangely acute, imaginative mood that 
accompanies semi-mtoxication. He saw he had made a 
^t mistake in seeking help ; he would certainly not seek it 

nK»* ^-^ ^^."^^ 'I'"*® determined. So— so it was 
useless to distress Eleanor. Had there been danger of doing 
It again, he would have told her— confessed, been sorry : but 
^ce there was no danger, it was inflicting grr.tuitous worry 
on her to tell her He qmte agreed with her drastic measures, 
and meant to obey them. Besides, the UncontroUable had 
come into working order again, before he resorted to them. 
One mghts work more would finish this belated business of 

m^ "^S* S^'^^^y ,'?P«*aV^. midressed, and crept into their 
room. She was still awake. 

weli?*^' ^^''' ^""^ ^**® •" ^^® ^^^' " ^"^ ^^^ ^°^^ ^^^ 



4 



'^1 

■i: 



168 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 

iB dj&snlty in czisp ■rttoti]*' 



He knefw there would be a li 
tion, but he mastered it. 
" So well," he uid. " Oh how ripfpMy tired I am !" 
"* But I wish you Meny Christmas, AiSag," dbe said. 
" Yes. Same to you, Nellie. Im't ^jolfy ?" 

^He read t^e nisht's work to Eleanor not day after lunch, 

when tlM rest of the members of the household had dispersed 

to their various oblisations, for Christmas Day was, so to 

speak, a week of Sundays with regard to religious instruction 

and observance, and she was in no doudst whatever about the 

quality of the work. K the Uncontrollable had had a long 

oad wilful holiday, it had clearly oome back invigorated and 

refreshed, and had come back, too, willingly to its work; no 

lures had been laid for it, no ferrets sent in. Even if Harry 

had had any intention before of laying the story of last niglit 

before his wife, the intensity of her congratulations, the 

smcerity of her Joy in this return of his ability, would have 

made it almost impossible for him, with the weakness of 

dispc^tion that was his, to spoil her hour. Besides, so he 

told himself, there was no need ; he had but to complete 

what was so near completion, and again his will would be 

entirely bent on healing a habit that, after aU, could have 

as vet no indissoluble hold on him, else he had been unable 

to hold it at arm's length during this last fortnight. 

" Oh, Hany, what a joy good work is !" she said ; " and 
all this is worth its weight in pearls to me, over and above its 
own excellence. And now, dear, I'm going to confess, and 
you may scold me, or impose on me any penance you like, 
for I was frightened last night ; I didn't entirely trust you. 
I was afraid when you said you were going to sit up and 
work, that . . . that ... I needn't say it. Instead you bring 
me this beautiful, cool, clean-cut work ! Now, what is the 
penance ?" 

It must not be supposed that her confidence did not move 
him to make his confession also. It would have been acutely 
mortifying to him, and (a thing that weighed more with him) 
acutely painful to her to hear it, and yet by far the major 
part of his mind was made up to tell her ; but the final ounce 
of resolution failed him, and that having failed, he took the 
only other possible course. As he could not manage to tell 
the complete truth, he had as completely to deceive her ; but 
it went against the grain, hideously and grindingly. It was 
only just a little easier than the other. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL leo 

g^^n wuwuuoa. wny, that you won't do it 

e.«idn„tUSrLlT,!S^rL^jS!;jr«SS;ed=» 

fiiSd°i^^* S^^ ^*^ ^°'^«<^ ^*e- But the plav was 
Sd^^ii^.?^.^^*^°° was taken afresh by £7 H^ 



i 



arg 



CHAPTER XI 

Thebx was given in London during the months of Febniaiy 
a short season of Ibsen plays, which, for some inscrutable 
reason, took the town by storm. The theatre-goers, perhaps 
because there was no new play produced, perhaps because toe 
majority of the old ones were not very good, had found in them 
something it was looking for, some reflection of their own 
mood, and perhaps of London weather, which was dismal and 
sordid and vaguely ominous. In any case, the little Wellington 
Theatre was crammed every evening, and the stalls (for the 
demand for seats was mainly of that class) had encroached like 
u ™"^? ^^^ ^ *^® pi*' till tliere was practically no pit left, 
" Hedda Gabler " had been packed ; the " Master Builder " had 
been packed, both with serious and opulent people, and when 

Little Eyolf " was annoimced, he had, in anficipation, the 
greatest success of all. And " Little Eyolf " was to appear 
for the first time on a certain Tuesday evening. 

That afternoon Louis Grey, who was studying his part in 
Harry's new play, after lunch, in his flat in Grafton Street, was 
urgently demanded by the telephone. He had sent his servant 
once to say he was out, but the desire to know when he would 
be in was pressed beyond the limits of his excuse. The 
message was from the actor-manager of the Wellington 
Theatre, who was in trouble because the Rat- Wife had in- 
fluenza, and did he know of anybody who was in the least 
competent to fill her place at a moment's notice ? A year ago, 
or a little more, he had given a couple of Ibsen pla3rs himseH ; 
it was therefore possible that he was in touch with a per- 
former. 

" Of course it is a tiny part," so came the staccato squeak 
of the respected colleague who was responsible for these 
revivals, " and we can get a super just to go through with it. 
But do you know of anyone who can act it ?" 

" Yes ; I'll try," he said. " I don't know if it's possible. 
But there is a woman who can act it." 

" Oh, who is she ?" asked the mouse at the ear. 

170 



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171 



;; Shan't teUvou. But I'U do my beat." 
Thanks awf- » began the voice. 

xes, Mrs. Whittaker was at home. 
Then came Eleanor's voice. 

uZ ^^' P***f °?.™® quickly," she said. " Harry and I were 
Just^mg out^ But il it's important, we wiU ^t!^ 

his^elLS"'^ ^**^' he was in Mount Street, and exphuned 

" I know you could do it," he said, " and I stake what vou 
please on your doing it, not weU, but very weU Have IZ 
Been any of the Ibsen plays «" ^ ® ^^^ 

;; Yes, • Hedda Gabler,' " said she. 

is th«whoil o ' ^^V.V'- ^""^ «°°^ ^* ^w throughout. That 
momel^ B^'^L''* *^'m^ T'^' • '^^'^ ^'^'^ ^ inadequate 

Bu^rXesttVat!wif:!" *" *^" "^"^^^"**« "^^^^^^ ^ 
He paused a moment. 

"lL!Z "^^ *^® most extraordinary request." he said. 

I know you have never been on a real stage with a reS 
audience. But you did it here in the dining Sfm ^th Ha^ 
to say the rest of the scene and myself to look^^' ^ 

« 5®^' ^^^ ^ ^?^^ ^*" o* i*'" said she. 

appear m the Rat-Wife this evemng you won't forget any of 

fL tW r^ ^Tf /^« ^^^^l'^ *>f the thing itseWTthe ^S 

fact that you can't forget any of it." ""am 

But It's impossible," said Eleanor. " I should have to 

r^^rse; I should have to know how to mo ve abSJt th^ 

And then aU the secret ambition flared up again Here 

frrslnduSrr^^' J'"^^^^^ "°* *° **k« ^'S' of he^ 
iPl? ^**®^ "^'^ of experience. 

the Se orthnfi""^ ^*^ ""^ ^°'^'" ^« «*id' " ^d learn 
Fvnif ^«^ *i ^*f«®' *'''* ^®« your exit, and know where 

^ and dt'irSr "*^' x^^^« ^<i look fi^t. if^y^ 
tSLifrn^Iri® afterwards. I so well remember Hiny 
teLmg me that you were acting-mad. Here's a verv r^ 

^Ar^'^'^u } ^^"^ «*y '^^ woman wh^ Is castTor the" 
?ntl^ \''^^ to-morrow, and you need not do it i«^ 
unless you choose. But. though you teU me you don^t SJ 



mi 



172 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



•nything about acting and all the rest of it, you wouM do a 
great kindness to poor Anderson, if you would consider it. and 
consider now at once. He can get a super to walk through 
the part, as I told you, but of course he wants to have it 
acted. He asked me if I knew anyone who could act it. I 
said I did. It's up to you, Mrs. Whittaker. That's a phrase 
from poker, which is a game of chance. I don't think there's 
•nyfort of chance about your power to do the Rat- Wife." 

This interview presented itself to Eleanor in the light of a 
Mewn that had come true. For years she had longed, with 
the mexpressibility of day-dreams, for something like this. 
Hhe had mdulsed them because they were so fantastic. Now, 
in the clear thin light of a February afternoon, her dreams, 
woven and real, in return for the impalpable fleeces, were put 
mto her hands. She could not discuss them, for they came 
f romher own loom. But she still sought not to recognize them. 
But Hany wouldn't let me," she seid. 

I' Then, may I ask Hany ?" said he. 

" 1 8um)08e so. I know he won't. But even if he does 

..' Jf'* ^^y' ^ ^^^^^ love it ! But it's quite impossible." 
Then, where is Harry ?" he asked. 

Louis had but a word with him, and the two came back 
to her. 

4< "Nellie, there was never anything so tovely !" he cried. 

You have always longed to act— act really, act seriously I 
What a chance !" 

!! Oh, Harry, I hoped you would say * No,* '* she said. 
No, you didn't. Did you ?" 

Eleanor looked from one encouraging face to the other 
encouraging face. 

" I suppose I didn't," she said. " Oh, you wiU both be 
sorry for this. So shall I." 

" May I telephone ?" asked Louis. 

The whole thing had been so sudden that Eleanor had 
scarcely time to be alarmed, for there was so much to do 
"^'ore she had leisure for terror. She drove off immediately 
with both men, and found herself ten minutes afterwards on 
an empty stage. Louis Grey was Mrs. Allmers, Mr. Ander- 
son was, as he would be this evening, Mr. Allmers, Harry 
was Little Eyolf. They placed themselves where they would 
be m the scene, and she made her entry. 

Then — it was not that what she had to do was easy, it was 
simply inevitable. Little Eyolf had a book to prompt her 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



173 



with, but there wm no need for th»t. Snoh reheMwd m 
there wm she conducted herself. Twice she ttopped herself. 

" I must begin that speech sooner," she s*id, " m I have 
to get close to Ldttle EyoM. Yes, Just one sentence sooner, 
before I begin to cross over." 

And the second time : 

" I must begin to move before I say good-bje." 

She said the words to herself. " And as I say ' a kind 
good-bye,' I must be close to my exit," she added, '• I see." 

Then she tossed back her hair. 

" CSan't I do it with mv own hair ?" she asked. " I should 
feel so hot in a wis, and I should never know what the wig 
was going to do. Look, like this !" 

She loosened her hair a little, letting it fall over her fore- 
head, making her face small. 

" Like that," she said. " That's so much more safe." 

Anderson looked at her as if with recognition. 

" But it is the Rat- Wife," he said. 

That certainly was the opinion of a full house in the evening. 
It was announced on fly-leaves put into programmes that 
Miss Coventry was indisposed, and that her place as the Rat- 
Wife was to be taken by Miss Ramsden, a name that roused 
neither expectation nor the reverse in the minds of any. 
But for the few minutes that she was on the stage she utterly 
held the house. From the moment she entered there came 
with her some dreadful sense of horror and dismay. She spoke 
in a whining monotone, and, though she looked old and iU and 
frM^e, there seemed to lurk in her some sort of primeval 
and elfin power. The play that had up to her entrance done 
no more than interest the audience, suddenly gripped them. 
She screwed it up, made it tense and terrible. 

Louis and Harry were in a box together ; the former leaned 
forward a little as Eleanor came on to the stage, and sat then 
without word or movement till " a kind good-bye " quavered 
across the listening house. Then he turned to Harry. 

" Bora to it," he said. 

Tlwy went round, as arranged, at the end of the act behind 
the scenes. There had been a special call for her, and it 
had been repeated, and she had just come off for the second 
time, blind with straightforward pleasure. 

" Oh, and Miss Coventry has got very bad influenza, 
Harry," she cried. "Isn't it fun, because Mr. Anderson 
wants to know if I can take her place all this week ? I said I 



9mtr 



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■hould have to Mk vou first. Harnr, of oonne, bat you wen 
oommg round after the first act. And he is g«^tog to^TSI 

!hS^™^7'^.hT^^ •*""* remuneilSw^^ whichl^ 
i„ f^®,''*'^'"*?' How are you. Mr. Grey? IHdli^ 
M awful gooM of myself ? No. I know I didn't do X 
But It was such fun that I can't be serious." 

^«.tn '*^i.'^«' *"/ l^* P"»*»«d »* »>«'k off her hot?we 
Somehow she had made herself look small and fraU on the 
•taape ; now. as she stood there, Rat-Wife no longer, she wa 

nnlnmn T* u*^* *«T' '^^M^^ ^» *^« shoulder, with a 
column of neck nsmg above that supported that little face 

hS T"J:i'^*i^ K^^^ ^«^«^* «' BmSuIdering gold lS 
had looked on her first as a girl with a cleaJ Spacity for 

I^'SJil.**'^'' *"" ^^ looked o^ her. often and og^^a. a 
ohawmng woman Harry's wife, an amiable hostess, a friend 
even. But now he saw her differently. The various linM 

^v*C f^ ^«?*?if ^- ^/' Performance and her^rlSS! 
^tv had Jomed.and the product stood there, looking^ him 
^th level eyes, eager for his commendation, unconscious 

niSr^* ""*"• ^"*>^' ^*t ^« professional appr^tiS 
2S^ ^' was conscious of her as a woman. 5&e rathw 
Z^f ^S.**" «^rf. ^1^0 » year ago had engaged his att^ 
tion as a wit6h seemed to have come of age, tS iS^ve made W 

Si^n?"'°'f^ ^1'.^^^«^*- AU that'^had been Shkn^ 
pleasant contemplation, a sunrise, so to speak, or a flower 
-^l^out^of. the i«a»im.t, into the nSS k the S"^ 

"But you will have to take yourself seriously." he said 

to yourseg if you don't. But roally. Mm. Whittaker-or are 
you Miss Ramsden still?-it was a^ admirable h^tle^o^ 
??r;q,ff?^^°" remember we once all tJxod together about 
,-nH,ff£n?''*i ^"*^*lf of slence in a theatre? the polite, 
mdifferent silence, the critical silence, the real silence I 
assure you that you got the real sUence." 
in »,?,\TU^'*l\^"^^^ Eleanor, not quite ingenuously, for 

R„f \li r'* "** ^^^ '¥. ^"^ «^« ^»d heldler audiW 
But all her conscious self was chary of recognizing it. It 

^w«n t f ? ^'^''^/ iinpossible that she shoSdhf ve done 
as well as this or if not impossible, so delightful that she 

8hf ,I;^,«fT* '* ^i' * ^r^^ *^** ^*^ *PP«»^ to come trae! 
She must have external evidence on its reality. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



176 



I Mnin ytm th»t yoa did. Do try to remember what 
it ■otmds like," said he. " When we Me on the itage we u» 
AlwAyi listening for it. And when it oomee, you know that, 
for BO tonff m it iMts, you have the theatre in the hoUow of 
jjBur iMnd. You can ^lay on it, and it can nnst no more 
than the piano can resist the fingers that make it laugh or 

" And I got it ?" asked Eleanor, stiU hardly credulous. 
" You did indeed." 

Harry was bovishly Jubilant at his wife's success ; there 
was no neccBsit^ for keeping her identity a secret, and he told 
a dozen critic-friend during the intervals betwp«n the acts, 
with the natural effect that all the papers next morning had 
complimentary little notices about MIm RAmaden, and made 
It appear that nobody else, except each of their individual 
selves, had the slightest idea who she was. Also, directly after 
breakfast next morning, before ffoing down to the first rehearsal 
of his new play, he bought her, at staggering expense, a 
chMimng little Jade rat, with ruby eyes and gold whiskers. 
It had been arranged that she should go down to the theatre 
m the afternoon and call for him, and, since she was young 
^d eager and delighted with her success last night, it f oUowed 
that she laid out no less than two shillings in procuring all 
the morning papers that a neighbouring bookstall held, and 
spent most of the morning in reading what each had to say 
about herself. Though she felt she would be obliged to teU 
Harry in how vain and prinking a manner nhe had employed 
herself, she could not resist the fascination of this search. 
It was still hardlv credible that printers had set up type, 
and papers published (so that she became some infinitesimal 
part of their force) criticism and praise about her acting. 

The first she opened it was so laudatory that she still almost 
wondered whether there aa not some conspiracy to fool 
her, and she cut this out, unable to insist the pleasure of 
sending it to her father. With it she ont a note. 

" Oh, darling daddy, you will never guess ! Miss Coventry, 
who s an actress, fell ill yesterday, and as hers was a part 
I had studied, Mr. Grey asked me to take her place in a real 
true theatre, quite seriously ! And I did, and Just look what 
the Daily Time^ says. I acted as Miss Ramsden. and, of course, 
I asked Karry first. Will you tell mamma that, if she wonders ? 
I did enjoy it." 

Eleanor did not close the envelo o. Perhaps there might 



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176 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



be another clippingor two to put in. She tried the Morning 
Telegraph next. There was quite a lone notice of " Little 
Eyolf," and her eye ran quickly down the column searching 
for mention of the Rat- Wife. She soon found it, and aa 
she read her face unconsciously assumed an expression oi 
ludicrous dismay. 

"Miss Coventry, unfortunately, was ill, and could not 
play the part of the Rat- Wife, and it is charitable, therefore, 
to suppose that her place was filled at the very last moment. 
But it would really be better that when no competent under- 
study is available in such cases, the part should be merely 
read by a dresser or scene-shifter, book in hand, than that 
an audience should be asked to witness such excruciating 
incompetence. We suppose that this is Miss Ramsden's first 
appearance : her friends should urge her to make it her last." 

Eleanor felt as if some stranger in the street had slapped 
her face, and, indeed, it had turned as red as if that had 
actually been done. 

" Oh, but he is imkind !" she said half-aloud, and for a 
little sat in gloom and dismay. She had to act again to-night, 
too, and for the moment she felt that she could not. Had 
she really been as bad as that ? The conspiracy to fool hei 
was not quite so widespread as she could have wished. Then, 
with a certain grim honesty, she cut that out too, and put it 
in the letter to her father. It necessitated another line or two. 

" But I enclose the Morning Telegraph as well," she added, 
" which seems vexed with me." 

Eleanor was not quite so eager to open the next sheet. 
But as she read, again her colour mounted, and she plied 
eager scissors. 

^' Oh, he is kind !" she said to herself, and popped that 
also into her letter. Then followed a quantity of amiable 
conjpiracy, another slap in the face, and more amiability. 
But all the critics noticed the Rat- Wife, whether they liked 
her or not. 

Harry, meantime, had been spending the dreariest of morn- 
ings, seated in the sheeted stalls of the theatre, while a 
quantity of discontented and apparently incompetent ladies 
and gentlemen said their parts in bored voices, and forgot 
their cues. Miss Anstruther in particular moved him to 
despair. She also expressed despair, when she and Louis 
Grey, and the discouraged author had lunch together at a 
neighbouring restaurant. She was one of those highly 



: mom- 
^hile a 
b ladies 

forgot 
bim to 
i Louis 
er at a I 

highly 



177 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 177 

friends, that is toX t^walt^^^^^^^^ Her 

circumstances heTve^^; oTrelSsh fc""* .^f "* ^"^^^ ' 
his work, had been celestial ^tS S: ?*??' "P *^ now, and 
cellent goodlS^D To d^v? ^^VT"" **° ^^^ ^^ ^^^ 
in blacSess of t^y ' B»f'^2^ V^ »t aPP«»«d f «med 

pressed).the mlt Z^erate o^ra^^^^^^^^ T 

was a privileged nAmnn ai.^ *^ ij iT *"""* ner inends, she 

no one dreamed of ro^ntS'for W f '° «°°^»?ting that 
had the power of obmrratSftL pLt fc*^^ her charm 
" «' I^ t n"? V'** *\^ P--t woSw^need e^SsTre *° *'^ *"^ 

" ThL'^o ^ZoZ^t ir fttnre; f r^^ -^«- 

benevolence. Fancv me h«fn^ ?^*^°S, ^"* «^°PPy. sugary 
Why the theatrHSl shriel^^fh U:^'''^^^^^^^ 

intention^ and ch^es CSln^^'f-^"' ^'.*^« «"^ «f his 

have done ^tht' '^hy ,omrne'in*I^' ^^ *-^f ?^« ^^^ 
"Hymn 253 ' O hannvZnS^^* ^ •" *¥ P'* ^" shout out 
tion^ JoiLg r ^y^'^lu'^iJ^^^^^ congrega- 

There ™ no SS w?^ "I'^'l ^^^ "»«> listening, 
beauty, Jd^eZrinrh!nJ?^<!t°^™''ll' "** •"" "»»* 

eve,S^ X"e«1°i'?"llr''G:^; al'dVL'^" "". ^ » »"« 
lunchiig tSeether anS n3™?r J "y. "'<' I wre aU 

ShalIIt%tS|'L„r,^4«bL'S'f" """ '^gtynme! 

tI«t'^ght'ha^L7c''a&r;^th^<' =''"^' " » ™- 

""ttered, whether for the ?anVclSi.|^,jl "^ '"''°« 
^ie"Z1er^£,?'^« ^ ^e'ttrX^^'wh^g 



ili 






IS 












I! 



i i 



178 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



Oh 



I, I am such a brute !" she said, " laughing at your nic 
play. Buo, dear Mr. Harry, if you don't want them to sin 
hynms in the pit, do alter my part Just a little. If you cu 
out a dozen or two sentences, and put in something that' 
strong instead, it would make such a difference. And 
could act it then ! Drink some wine. We're all cross an 
exhausted, and hungnr, and thirsty. Let's eat and drin 
for five minutes, and then go on again. Caviare ! My poo 
sister has got a new wig exactly like caviare, little round blac 
curls, millions of them, teeny-weeny !" 

She poured out a glass of hock for Harry, and clinked he 
glass at his. 

" No — no wine, thanks," he said. 

" But you must when a lady so far forgets herself as to as] 
you to drink with her. Come, Mr. Harry. Success to th 

Slay ! And may it run till the sea gives up its dead, and th 
onservatives get in again. Just give me a little salt though 
no not that, but in the play. I cannot be an earnest soul 
fui Mothers' Meeting." 

Harry had brought down with him this morning the ok 
copy of the play into which he had written the new inter 
polated lines which gave to Stella the kindliness and geniality 
to which Miss Anstruther so much objected. It lay on th< 
table beside her, and as she spoke, she took it up, and beeai 
turning over the leaves. * 

" There are so many little things you could so easily alter ' 
she said. " It's so easy to make SteUa a little human and 
hasty. You really seem as if vou had been in two mindj 
a^ut her yourself, Mr. Harry, for here you write first of &R 
•You'll come in last, my dear, and we know who looks afte] 
the hindmost.' Oh, why did you cross it out ? That is such 
a nice way of saying you are going to the devil ; I could sa\ 
that ! Instead, what is it ? Something about lagging and 
loitering ! Oh— and here again, and here again ! You have 
crossed out exactly the things I want to say, and which no 
one can phrase like you. Mr. Harry, what was the matter 
with you, that you altered it all like this ? Was it Christmas 
Eve, or mdigestion, or country parsonage ? You told me 
you were parsonizing for the holidays. All through— all 
through you have been taking the spice out, and putting suet 
in instead." ® 

Harry looked across at Louis. 

*• I told you so," he said. 



i ;■ 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



Yes ; I advised him to THo »«.<. i , 
particle of sympathy^ Nobo^t?^!^ T'^'^ °o* ^a^e won a 
I don't say the play in the a^t^."? ^^""^ ^*'®** ^O' Stella, 
modelling of the chfi^ter bu^W f? improved by the re^ 
theatre it is." ' *""* ^"^"^ *he Point of view of the 

" Oh, trust me !" she said « T «^ii 
sympathy. They wiU adore me " ^" ^"^"^'^ *° S^t the 
xou, perhans," said he " h'nf .,^* *u 

«ne fact, and you a^to^o aSl^'ot'rfr^ *^** ^«P^«- 
with me. But I only ask vm, fl?.? ^ ^°^® y**""" temper 
WM. And it isn't liL yo/ ?oS^ W^^*^^ ^^ P^^ as^it 
order to secure the washy s^Sh^of;h*^/^,^ *^^ P^»y in 
. " But I don't aeree idtlfv?„ '» ^ -Ji^ feeble-minded:" 
it spoils the play,Sd ScMentaWl?''* ¥* -"^ ^^^'^ t^ink 
I hope the iritSh pu^c tS *hL '^Tt'^^^ » P% which 
dramatic in having a Rvm»«>i. TV -^"^^ ^« nothine un- 
happens to prefeT^Se .' y^P**^«*^« ^"«'^°«' »«d the 1.^ 

thumb TnlfinV"!"^ «^«*"- °^ -Patience, with a clicked 

Brit,^Uhc""lt S ''^tLta*r '/ ^f«-^ ^ *^e 
and sympathetic women I sun^« ^ \, I """'* ^^^^^ sweet 
secret of their charm " ^'^PPose, and try to find iut the 

^^^fp^\^L'^^^^ °t>--d Hany. ..i3 their 

tiieir pllt*?„& "^y ^y P-^." «-id she. " their dulness and 

Tht" wa^To oJe who wo'ST 'J ^^^ ^«*-^^- before 
with a part when shXppS to fi^^^^^ °k' 5°°^ «-**«' pS 
make herself more odious if shf i„ *' ^^i* ^^^ one who could 
So he b«,kein qi^cUy. fearlf thrir^ '^^^^^ ^^'^^"d 
natural but irritating answe^^ ^^"^ "^^^^^ ^^^e some 
But we all know how deadly a first rehearsal is," he said. 



II 









180 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



" how we all feel that we can never make anything out o 
our unfortunate author's work. Do be patient a little 
forget your dislike of the part and start fresh. Stella is t 
good woman, it is true, but I think Harry has made an ox 
cellent reply to the idea that goodness and dulness ar( 
synonymous." 

" I find his reply is in the afl5rmative," she said. 

Harry retained the serenity of his temper and laughed. 

•' Yet I assure you that it is not," he said. " All the tim( 
I was writing the revised part I was thinking of quite thi 
least dull woman I know, except yourself, of course." 

She made a little gesture with her long hands. 

" But it was just me you should have been thinking about 
Me, me, me !" she cried. " I can't act, you see, I can onh 
go on the stage and behave there exactly as I behave wheii 
I'm off it, ana say the things I say oflf it ! And I do not re 
semble in the smallest degree the part you have written fo 
me. Oh, Mr. Harry, do behave nicely, and think about mi 
a little, and not about the dullest — or was it the least dull- 
woman, you know ? Who is she, I wonder ? Do tell me !" 

Harry did not particularly care to bring Eleanor into thi 
discussion, and he passed over the last question. 

" But I want to behave nicely," he said. " Will you le 
me go through the part with you ? Will you come and din 
with us this evening 1" 

To this she gave a ready assent, since it gave her an oppoi 
tunity to tackle one of the opposing forces alone. Loui 
Grey rose. 

" Well, we must get back to the theatre," he said. " Ar 
you coming, Hariy ?" 

" Only for a few minutes. Eleanor is going to call for m 
there after lunch." 

Miss Anstruther had some small errand to perform first 
and the two men strolled back together. 

" But for Heaven's sake don't go tinkering the part, 
said Louis, " and allow her to say one sharp thing, on cond 
tion she says another sympathetic thing. You'll get in n 
end of a mess if you attempt that." 

" Oh, trust me !" said Harry lightly. 

Louis laughed. 

" I trust no man," he saM, " when Marian Anstruther wani 
to persuade him to do something for her. She has a perfect! 
astounding faculty of persuading men to make fools of then 
selves for ner. I very nearly did myself." 



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THE WEAKER VESSEL 



181 



•"ipf Crt^enM"'" """y ■"»• «» you to.gi„ . ,^ 
^^,r-y -«y. But .he doe, want 3„.^„, .. ,<„^ 

^4Sl«'r^Pt-,»'i»£A otW -M not p Jtho 
most distant of hintrinH fi, f •''''^y °»^n* to convev th^ 

eoS;tr --»- »^nxWtS 

K«oey »n incident to ^^„"t^ff »'<'»' -nonths. T;,„ 
forjotten it." " ■* »"»embered, and I tliink she 1^ 

of .that inconvenient otgS,."'"^' '"^'■°"'- <>'^te existence 
« ^''on^enient ?" 

„ ■ '""•"° ""» » «"- yon can't have it out " 

Anstruther to dinner but i^hi''"""' "'''™ h' «»ked*Mta 
part which she found to aC ST P''?"'^ »»> 'o stndyS 

ence, though, hJt^'^:^Zt^ f^""^* ^^^ C prefer 
fei?°^'^ forward To a ver? nleLt^ f "^^' ^^^ ^ould stiU 
a the l'TP*?y- Eleanor Z Eld t^*, "^"°^^S ^« hi« un- 
at the theatre, but she had nevL K ^\ ''"^^ ^^ twice only 
though there was no question of h'-^° \'^^^ *« *^e flat, an? 
It had occurred to hefthat FIpL '"f -J"^ ** the omission 
Abo, though vaguely and tLfifi'7 ^l^ "°* °^«ch hTe C* 
be jealous of Elelnor for her ann ^^?^' '^^ ^«« ^n the way to 
she had often thought Ha^°!^f.^°«pf her husband Xce 
chann, and his undoubted K ^f ^'' ^«^^««« and ^s 
c^lfr ^^'^^^ ^*^« I'ked toU"^ exactly the sort of man 

cenamofusmghisweal.esstogTt'^So^'^rwt^^^^^^^ 



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wanted it, and there remained over his charm, which she won 
have enjoyed, and his brains, which were clever enough 
provide out of the end of a pen this delightfully appointed fls 

Eleanor had gone to the theatre when she arrived. SI 
came into the room where Harry was waiting, with a sort 
eager pleasure in her manner that was distinctly flatterii 
to her host. She had been admirably docile too, at tl 
adioumed rehearsal. It was clear she desired to be agreeabl 
But such a delicious nest as yours I have never seen 
she said. " We poor actors and actresses slave our lives on 
and stand in draughts and windy corridors, and never ha^ 
such a thing as civilized dinner except on Sundays, or wh< 
we are out of work and can't afford it ; while you authoi 
after a month's leisurely scribbling in an easy-chair from t< 
to twelve, take a flat in Mount Street and buy a motor-ca 
Dear Mr. Harry, don't think I envy you your good fortun< 
I rejoice at it. And I am not late, am I ? I tried so hard 1 
bepunctual." 

Sne had come into the room with her cloak still over h 
shoulders, and cannot be quite acquitted of intention in th 
regard. For the cloak was delicious in itself, silk of ros 
madder tint, and the collar of it and its outline were trimme 
with feathers of the same shade, soft as the wisps of clou 
that float in the western sky at the setting of the sun. Harr 
like most proper men, knew nothing whatever about clothe 
but, like most proper men, he knew that her oUve-skinnc 
face and black hair combined with the cloak to make 
charming picture. 

" Certainly you have succeeded in being punctual," he sai( 
shaking hands. " Your cloak ?" 

" Ah, you hav* noticed it ?" she asked. " I kept it c 
parthr because it was bitter outside, and partly for you to 8< 
it. Stella : second act ? Do you think so ? But don't 1< 
us talk shop yet. I am himgry and exhausted, and I shou] 
be cross, except that I know you are going to make me amiabl 
But what a day ! Bitter wind outside, first rehearsal insidi 
and — and is it too much to call Mr. Grey a bitter wind inside 
What a cad I am to suggest he is like an east wind ! But I 
shrivelled me to-day ; that is why I was so stupid." 

She peeled off her cloak as she spoke, and again, thoug 
Harry did not know about clothes, it was clear that she wc 
admirably clad. To the masculine mind she seemed almot 
magnificently dressed ; the feminine mind would have had n 
doubt whatever about it. Her beautiful arms were bare ; 8 



^ THE WEAKER VESSEL igg 

Sq^'o7th\'L.t'SoTr;srr% arrangement of 

the other. From the XrofthJ?'' «eP»«fced th? one from 
cade, of them. Sh^UnLLfl ^^^'^^pJ^e? dress feU ca^ 

were embroiderS ^tt hem Ske^ \ '^^ ^'^ ""^ ^^^^ 
flower. To him the eff^^J w^f ^'.H» ^P^'Y^ of leaf and 
bfautiful head the bf^i,!^ undetaUed j there was the 
glory of the go^.* WrenT^kn<J%?^ ^"^ ^^^' the 
remembered tTiat she usuallv J^"^ Eleanor dined alone he 
gown. Probably it wM^e^ S7^* f « «»««d a tea! 

Eleanor's a>wn, simply lLaZ«?h!^' *'''* ^^ "«^«' noticed 
It would have beSf m^ T ^® '^®*'*' ^a* Eleanor. But 
Anstruther's^o^" C m^fer ' i^.^""« "«*i««d S 
to noticea fl^h of lightnin?* ""^^ ^*^« pretended not 

He laid the cloak down oS a chair 

aske^^ " *^^ «*«"»'« «-«^g dress in the second act r he 

must^L*^Lt^l'',tsortr^^^ ^'^" «^« -id. "I 
have before I choorher gol^^'^i,*^ T^^ *« ^«* ^« 
I do want to forget for a Sle thaf T '' 'H *«*i°' ^'^d 

"^X^'toTk^^^t^^^^^^ 

talk; iiXn Ihetbirso t^St .'^''' ^ ^* - can 
sure it was you wha^^Z^fKu^?.^^ ^^® our food. I am 

seem to remembeTthatTdllt^' "«^^'°«- ^omen nevS 
and they arrange the iLLinsKT '' * ^^^'^ ^ ^^ ^' 
their silly faces*. As if anv£>dv t TY.*' ?^°^* "^^^nies 
when he ate. Everyone is ffif wanted to look at them 
her Jaw up and Sukl ^? • "^^^^ '^^ «»*»' chumping 
portant to"^ see oneTfood too wh^r^fr* ^^ ^^ «° ^^^^ 
matters so much more when nn« J^*^®' *>* ^°ol^« Pretty 
one looks hke oneTeM But th- - ."^^ "^^^"^^ than what 
their food at all-most nio« w^ ^°t* "^^"^^^ don't consider 
don't care what th?y 1^ SnT^'^'./u^^*"' ^hey say they 
thought I was, it isZS^at Wolf'' * ^^ ^'? ' *»"*»« I never 
hot and so strong l/^Ln S^ V T'. ^^l^^ious soup ! So 
about in it. S^me day fo? vZ s^,"^"*^' ^* ^^'^'"^ ^o^"^ 
dine with me, and eat th« XJ^ sins you and your wife must 
known as white soup in Z^f w-^u^*'*^ ^^^^ " vaguely 
With currants in it ? im «Ld?» ^^"''"*- ^^ •' «nd toast 
There was a sonphcity afout fl.s which somehow charmed 



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him and throughout dinner their conversation ran on similar 
undisturbing but primitively interesting topics. The weather 
came in for abuse, the roast partridge for praise and repetition, 
a celebrated murder trial that was ffoing on for highly speeula- 
tive guesses as to the manner of tne crime. Then Eleanor's 
autocrat, a youns Persian kitten, entered with the roast 
partridge, and made one wild leap of it into Miss Anstruther's 
dress, and announced its approval and desires by tea-kettle 
purrings, and a silvery-blue paw stretched out towards her 
plate. The gown was not really designed for kittens, but she 
gave it the same radiancy of greeting that she had given to 
everythinselse. 

" And tne puss-cat has come just in time for the most de- 
licious thing that she ever ate," said she, "with her red 
ribbon on to show she is a Socialist, and that therefore every- 
thing that I thought was mine belongs to her. Partridge, toast 
with currants in it, champagne ? No, we think partridge." 

" Oh, don't let her be a nuisance," said Harry. " Eleanor 
spoils her. Morris, I think you had better take the little cat 
away." 

Mje 



Miss Anstruther spread a protecting 
" Oh no, I want her here,^' she said 



hand over her. 

" It is such a com- 
p^Iiment when a little young thing takes you for granted, and 
sits down on you. Mayn't she stop ? I have an aflSnity with 
cats. They recognize me as one of themselves. Everything 
belongs to us, and if we want a thing we go on till we get it. 
Of course you can kill us, but short of that there is no stopping 
us." 

" But that's not confined to cats," said Harry. " K any 
of us want a thing enough, we get it." 

She laughed. 

"But most of us don't want enough," she said. "The 
quality of your desire is not sufficiently strong. But puss- 
cats and I know what wanting means." 

Harrv had drunk champagne, though in no way excessively, 
throughout dinner. It was natural ; it was, indeed, almost 
dictated by mere politeness that he should take one glass, " to 
keep Miss Anstruther company " in vulgar but expressive 
parlance. His intention had been to do no more than infini- 
tesimally sip it, quenching his thirst with water, and it was, 
indeed, an oversight on his part that he had drunk it quickly 
and had his glass refilled. After all, for once in what, indeed, 
was a very long way (since up to lunch-time that day he had 
not touched wine for six weeks), it was a thing of no moment 



THE WEAKER VESSEL iw 

whether he took wine or not, Bince it wm only the habit of 
that exqidrite unthawing and content c L bra^ whfch he 
te« at tS^^Z/^L"" %^A1' hi« :..ling. and em^^lot 
te^al .unL^TKnVK t "^3*^ !?°^ sharpened : a certain in- 
Z^i rw r* w i** ^^^ »"^ warmed him. his faculties 
S?t^.?^^ ^"«i* ^"^ '^«'^''- ^"«*«^ o' Pi^c^ o' Shed 
-^hT^ iffhT '^T"^"^ ' he wish Jwell to all thin^ 
Fll^«r u' '*^ * *"**^®" ■®"*® o^ missing something that 
f tel''*!l-^T'/'^^°***^« limitation followed qSly is 

Sever hfv«a*P;^^iiT -^^^ T**T^^^ «he been here\e couW 
never have attamed t us sunlit plateau. Meantime however 

hke"S?^'i'°- *S Eleanor's refum. there was JSt'corX' 
n.«n*!?l ^^"^''y beautiful woman to be his uodily mS 
?U?e^at !;*i^?V^ «^%^^ i^chanting. her kindness to the 
Sfnlf-f 5 revelation of tenderness, her keen pleasure in her 

of ®th! f!!''^* ""I^ "^^x*,* '^^ 'r^«' '^"d ''^'essed the ears 
of the purring cat. and Harry felt that she was probing into 

m^^nfVT k"-^!?'**^ *?*" «^»« *»«! to^^^bed yet For ?he 
Sr/lo^^^^^ °* ^'"'^ •^'*^*y ^~ ^""^'^^ with ime! 

"What do you want so much ?" he said. " You are beau- 
want r " *^ ^°""*' ^°" *"* successful. What else is there to 

She looked at him ouite straight. 

.« T ^*"* jriends," she said. " Oh, so badly !" 
said he thought you numbered them by the score," 

fnr^nJ"^ r;t'"« ^.®' f^"^ **^ *^^« t^ble as they sat waiting 
knnotf** at the end of dinner, with her chin resting on thf 

steS^H ? ^'i!" ^"""^r u^* *^^«' ^*^ »^ admirable gesture! 
she bfted her head and showed him her empty hands. ^ ' 

Not one " she said. " I don't go the right way about it 
anH?r"- J '*?,?^^^? '"y^^" attrlctive, I know ^e wei; 
Thet^nJ'Tf '' «°T.«- «^^™i^«Iy' «nd I feel I L making 
T S* ^' ■'„'*° something or say something so odious that 
Itl^X^f "^^^ T^' ^r/ '"^^^ * beginning at aU. To-day 

dLi^\]«%''''^°'^- ^'^ ^ ^r*^ ^^«'' ^^J^« herself more 
^greeable to two aear nice kind men ? The only thine 
that can be said for me is that I generally am sorry aftemaMs! 

Uk« .iif'^'^^'t ^"^^^« "^ scattered t^ the winds of heaven 
iiKe sparrows when the cat comes into the garden. And the 



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^^Hany felt »ll hi. chivalry and warm-heartedness go out I 

K""ng youraeu to a cat. But you also do an inluatiPA i 
other people in comparing them to spwro^ fIS i„.IiL 

mtT^rTi^Tu ^^°u "i8*^* »>« friends, mffl^wel 

birf 5w«°'f r**" ""• ^l^ ^"""^ ^'^^^ *h« dispeTi ? This o 

S^no c2t ^"ir^'^^r*" ^t ^«^ A^iy weU the 
^r 1 ° !?• ^ ^ they Jmed together, didn^ they ?" 

WM chSi''°''^''t""^ attractive; his Uttle^speech. toe 
was charming, and she had no doubt of its since^ fih 

t^^ teirr .T ""'' "'^'^' for W toucCeS; tha 
ftl«ft ♦!.« K ^f "t, even while she felt it to be true, she fel 
5&felt^,?t^'?,?^v P^^*r*^""?"'« ^' **»« «*«« scene i£ 
teSousv^f th^^ I?**i:fi r'^"*y * «"8htly more formulSe^ 
jealousy of this delightful young man's wife Theiw wi!-^ 

Yes, th«r dinod together," she said, " and the cat nnmd 
n?4S^„''„t"1 TE 'y'^fh-'-^beoauseshe hX^ 

"i^t'rwtJStri^.^tst,''"" °''' "-^""^ 

Nothing, my dear man. But iust remflmhor it t - 
SS.""S "™*"^ ™P'e»«»nt, thati!!thar?:S^\u„i'S 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 197 

Wcloat agafn^ ^ them8elvo« Mi88 Anstruther picked up 
Ah, that sounds delightful," she said " J^t »» r 

that now T?l „k ^' J "?' impatient," she said. "I ,ee 

Of his^?.'^ "° '''^*'" ^« «*id- " Surely a man may think 
She paused again, then got up. 






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188 THE WEAKER VESSEL 

" Ah, you are very happy, then," she said. " That makei 
me see, too, why you would find it difficult to alter it 
If the head and the heart write together, it must be scarceh 
possible to do differently. But that makes it even harder foi 
me to hope to satisfy you in the part. I need not teU you ] 
J^do my very best. But it is hard ; you must allow it h 

Somehow they seemed to each other to have taken a irreal 
leap forward m intimacy. She felt him tr be a friend ; she, 
to mm, had come nearer also. 

.. Tx^^ y°" **^^'* **^^^ '^^^U* ^^ Mid sugary ?" he asked. 
At least you think her less so ?" » J' " «»»^«"- 

"I no longer think her dull and sugary. It was my mistake. 
WiU you go straight on, Mr. Harry ? And may I have a 
cigarette, or is that out of tone with the part ?" 

Perhaps the claws were unsheathed for a moment then. 

?^M ^y ^^ ^°* scratch him. He laughed. 

"^ Oh no ; Eleanor smokes," he said. ' 

"I ^)1» *l^en. too. And where does she sit when you read 

" Where you sat." 

He paused a moment. 

" Come and sit here again," he said. 

The second act was but half through when Eleanor herself 
came m. They both got up to welcome her. 
^^ And it went well ?" asked he. 

A "J®!l^*'^"?^1 ^* '®*"y ^^^' I a™ so gJad to see you, Miss 
Anstruther. I have been doing Rat- Wife, you know. But 
why^ould you know ? Oh, dear, what a glorious gown ! I am 
an awful dowdy always when I dine alone with Hany. Harrv 
may I have nay wndwiches brought in here, and listen while I 
®*i^w"i! ^' ?° ^ i^*«"^Pt ? I should hate to do that." 

Ihat J!.leanors sudden entry was an interruption it was 
impossible to deny, and the interruption was not confined to 
the mere fact that she caused a break in the middle of an act. 
indeed that was the least serious part of it, for she had caused 
a psychical mterruption, which, though it did not appear at 
once on the surface of things, was of the nature of a magnetic 
storm that deflects compasses. Up till now Marian Anstnither 
had been listenmg with sympathy to the reading, had been 
domg her best to understand the character, to mould her 
mind into It. But on Eleanor's appearance (she who had 
inspired these speeches, she who was Harry's wife), her sym- 






THE WEAKER VESSEL 199 

?*"y ^f d to the end, and got Sp. * 
,^ I read that very badly," he said. 
Yea, darhng, you did," said Eleanor. 

soS&'tt.''t";''?-^'?,««gf«-?nfe;^^^^ 

interpretation of what had haSnen^ Ti^T' ™*^® '°P« 
occurred to him. "appenea. ihen an evasion 

thei^^^^ *° "*"'' '"^ ^»"""" »" h« »»id, uncorking 

glass." "7* ^°"^ '^a^ into your own 

J Give me that, Harry !" said Eleanor. « I am so thirsty 

It was unwise of her, though cleverly done. But the 






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olevemesB did not divert him ; it but confirmed him. Alon 

^th^ her, he would have said, " If I mayn't, darling, yoi 

Shan t either." Now he drowned the teaspoonful of whislr 

m the two glasses, with a half-tumbler of soda-water, an< 

fiUed a third glass in not quite the same proportion for himself 

Eleanor had been called before the curtain three times ai 

the conclusion of the first act of the play to-night, and hac 

come home in a glow of rosy pleasure, through which th« 

disturbance her arrival caused had not been able to pierce 

But by this time the glow had sufficiently faded to becom< 

transparent. Something had certainly occurred to irritat( 

Many ; he had asked but the one question about how sh< 

had fared this evening, and he sat now, in preparation foi 

the readmg of the third act, with a full glass by his side, pool 

fellow ! Perhaps Miss Austruther had got on his nerves— 

that was easily possible; perhaps (and she marvelled athei 

own obtuseness) it was she herself who had interrupted theii 

reading, and disarranged the mental balance. She had 

nothing but candid regret if that was the case, and, on the 

chance of it. it was clearly her part to go away instantly. 

She drank half her glass, repressing a shudder— for she 
loathed the taste of spirits — and got up. 
« •**?^^^ Anstruther, I know you will excuse me," she said, 
if I go to bed. Isn't it stupid of me ? I get so much excited 
ovOT a little part Uke the Rat- Wife, and that tires one after- 
wards. Good-night ; do come and see us again very soon. 
^O'^-night, Harry dear. Try to read the third act better." 
She left the room at once, with no more than a smile at the 
door, and for the moment Miss Anstruther, thinking in a 
manner which was familiar to her, and which, though usual, 
was also rather terrible, said to herself, "What a fool!" 
Comment on the thought is scarcely necessary, but she had 
divmed the reason of Eleanor's withdrawal well enough to 
know that she left them because she had brought in some 
element of interruption. This was not Marian's view of the 
usual conduct of wives, that they should leave their husbands 
in company with — well with attractive young women hke 
herself. But next moment, though still thinking commonly 
and rather terribly, she said to herself, "What a clever 
woman!" For if her husband felt the slightest interest, 
otherwise than friendly or professional, in his companion 
there could be no action on the part of his wife, if he was at 
all fond of her, more likely to render that interest other than 
abortive. But both her unspoken commente, as a matter of 



THE WEAKER VESSEL ,n| 

S'C:ro7t^^t^t S^tl^^^^^^^^ ^^-o. to w J 
for a much simple/ reaL" Shf^ 1?^°^ ' ^""^ l«ft them 
»nd had gone to feed, Sr than «l !t^* '^"^ .?*^ interrupted, 

m^ because she was thS''*She h^d toS' ?£^ ^^^'^^ ^'"^'^ 

But for some reason n«ifliA^*!fi5^ * ^° *^® ®*act truth, 
d^d the exceUenT^rd^comr^'dSfc^^^^^^^ 
some secret fashion, EleW? nat.frii ^ T"^« '«*"™- & 
tirement had suggested to earh ft ^ ^"""^ unreflective re- 
have remained, aS that put a bar w/'-u?"v^^y «^« 'flight 
bamer-hke, in the way o^heir frli w °^'%' t>'^t nevertheless 
night Miss An8truther"had b^n rnni-"^"'^.^^^^- ^«fo« to- 
Eleanor ; now it was a Se LTsVa^? and a lilfP ' ^'^^^^y °* 
u ^il °° ^« part, slightlv excited^Sjf ^*?® '"^^ hostile. 
Zi'\^^ alf «ady considered Sean^^^^^ ^«' ^«««^t«d 

whwky-and-soda, and no Wp? m?«! ^^f^""®^^ ^^^^^ » niild 
ifaforianloiewwhatEWor^L T"* ^?- ^^ ^^^t that 
ponderous about it. ^SSTer^^utv !n7^^d ^t"«^*«'' ^««^ 
dazzled him. When she K Zt^ t ^^' "'^^'^ * "ttlo 
Eleanor seriously about wh^J^T^^^ ™^°* *« talk to 
mquire about hefactiTtSsein^^ 3°°^.= ^« ^«"W also 
gr^ulato her. He remem^lelthS^ and quito certainly con- 
He moved a little^sSe o^^t ±^^? "^^"^^^ 
action was to make mnrr! fl nl- ' ^* ^^s clear that his 

Eleanor had satlnked CetW ^"^hf^*^^^^^^^^^ ^^ a°S 
would not do now. "^gecuer in the middle of it : that 

Rh^ "? ^ "^^ *^e third act v he a^t^^ 

to. h.ve tUrCtiffSu^n'^"™."' ^' l^' '»<^« "king 

»it4^»?T'"^° '" ""^ «^d- ■" It « e^ier to read to „™e 
She laughed 

~V:Si^;fe.'^itvf:'SrafA^f ' >»" --t ™,e 
Moh have their ovra baskefa a?" S ''"S "? »y AM ; they 

^She™ »,™Xn%'l''"'lr "^^ ■" -^■^ "»• 
to «t by him gave hSa a seZ o?t.„rif '??»"■" reluctance 








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" Will that satisfy you 1" she asked, taking the place he hac 
indicated. " Now, will you read the third act, or shall w< 
talk about the other two ? I think I see what you want witl 
regard to the character ; I do not know that you need reac 
the third. I remember it well : it is the same woman wh< 
appears there. She has not got — well, witty or sharp 
or—or woman of the world. If I can do the first two acts, ] 
can do the third. Besides, you must be tired with reading.' 

He put the manuscript down. What she said was excelleni 
in common sense. 

" You mean there is no need to drink a whole cask of wine,' 
he said, " in order to judge of the vintage. You must have had 
enough too." 

" Would it be rude to say that I have ?" she asked. " 1 
suppose I had better be rude, then." 

" Rude ?" he asked. " To be rude implies that the person 
you are rude to is affronted. There is no rudeness imless it 
impresses its quality on somebody else." 

" You mean you are not affronted. I am glad." 

She paused a moment, liking to look at him, and to be neai 
him. 

" Can one be glad alone ?" she asked. " I hope not. Be- 
cause I should Eke to go shares with you, then. It means 
that you understood my attitude. You see, I don't really 
want to hear any more, because I know the rest. There is 
nothing more for me to learn by your reading it. It would be 
pleasanter to talk." 

He picked up his glass, which was on the floor by him, as she 
spoke, and finished it. 

" Give me another cigaratte," she said, " and get yourself 
some more drink. Talk always goes best when the talkers 
have all they want. I want a cigarette ; you want a drink." 

His mind, already on guard over this subject, challenged 
the word. 

" Clever of you to guess," he said, getting up. 

" Not a bit. Can't you always tell the thirsty eye, whether 
it thirsts for drink, or cigarette, or sympathy, or gossip ? 
Thanks." 

She waited till he had filled his glass again, and again took 
his seat by her. 

" That is comfortable," she said, leaning her elbow on the 
back of the sofa towards him. " Now, Mi. Harry, if I can 
Act the part I will, I will do my very best. I see what you 
mean. But if I am terribly stupid with it— if, though I see 



THE WEAKER VESSEL ,9, 

what you mean, I can't irive von wi,-* 
very angry with me ? I wllf ?^ Z^i ^^l ^?»»' '^ you be 
you won't be very cross iZu ^* ?' **"* ^ ^ can't-l hoM 
want to lose theTh^cl of iSn^'H ' ^'^ friendless ; I do^ 

. You m^n me?" he asked. 

She shook W head. softl/smiS "*• 

thep'LVeW- :^t«,l-;^^^^^^ , " I want to do 

^o' ?»y own sake akrTam jfk'e thlT t^i ^^^*l" ^««« ^°°«ly. 
She drew back from hirH^^ on f '!,^'''*,^^^''*'"y«elf?' 
. " I must go now " sheTaiS^ '« ^ ^ *° ^®' ^®et. 
ing what I sipp^' so long for » ' ^""' ^"" ^^" ^ wonder- 

does^t ^S'^e'r- *'^ *^«^ -^'" ««<i l^e. " Besides, she 

The moment he had sAiri ;+ u 
corrected it. which w^s d:^t,;^w: "^^ *^' implication, and 

BuTh^Vad tked'it"°^tj t^"* •" ^« -^«d- 
had been obliged to answer h?^'"'^'**^^ 
honestly have said. "NotE" """^ ^"^'*^°^' ^e would 

She echoed that. 

" But. of course, nothine," she sairl « t j j ^ 
My cloak ? Thanks T 1,^^^ u ^ I" Indeed. I must co 
night ! We reC^e at ten ^^ '"°^ * ^^°« «^«^g- M: 
WW an awful though?*" ^ to-morrow morning, f beUeve. 

He followed her into the hall. 

Joth!:no%fc,trL^,^- ^^^^^ said. '« There is 

be vexed if you come do^Vfp^ J A^ """^^ '^' ^ ^^^^ 
house-top. 6ood-night, dr*splr^;!" ^' 'P^'™^ °" *^« 



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CHAPTER XII 

Haeey closed the door after seeing her into the lift, and wen 
to his dressing-room. From there he went straight to th( 
door mto Eleanor's bedroom, tapped, and was admitted. 

Hileanor was already in bed, but she was reading by the ligh 
that stood close to her. She laid down the book as he entered 
and smiled at him. 

ttt!.* ^^^' **®?'^ ^" ^^® ^^^- " Has Miss Anstruther Just gone ' 
What does she think of the third act ?" 

He had come in, firmly determined to say what he thoughl 
about his wife's conduct over a mere glass of whisky-and-soda 
At the time he had resented it ; since then his resentment hac 
magnified itself. But at the sight of her lying there, sweet 
«id white and beloved, all in him that resented was melted 
He sat down on the edge of her bed, and with her knees sh< 
made an arm-rest for him. She, too. had something to say 
but the sight of him, so far from melting it, made her purpose 
the stronger. He was so dear, and so weak. 

" Nellie, I meant to scold you," he said, " but I can't. 
Only you shouldn't have looked at me like that. Mise 
Anstruther might ha e spiessed. Never mind that for the 
moment. How did the play go ? Were you pleased with 
yourself ?" *^ 

His words were a little blurred ; probably no one else but she 
would have noticed it. 

"Yes, darling," she said. "It was aU right. But never 
mmd that for the moment. Of course Miss Anstruther could 
have seen nothing. It was only you who knew, that saw. I 
can t help it, Harry. I hate seeing you drink anything of the 
Bort. Of course, you think once does not matter, nor twice 
nor three times. So why not a thousand times, and ten 
thousand times ? There is no end to it, the moment you aUow 
'yourself a beginning. At least the only end is the end vou 
•know." ' -^ 

Bb sat upright, taking an attitude of decision. But nevei 
till that moment had she seen how weak was his mouth 

194 



THE WEAKER VESSEL ,g- 

S^^^^^^o^^^ r You don't treat 

M none the wowe for it It wouldhrt J^'^l ** ^^^e' and 

"A 5 ® ^'^"^^ ^^e noticed it » ^^^MissAnstruther 

wfat the OT^ving^TiTTou'^nrn^ *'"®- You Cw 

man doesn't. It is safe fS hC TnS df n?"«- ^h^ ordinal? 

;: But I've conquered it." ^e said '^/T' ^°'/°"-" 

rS^-^^ '^""'^ ^« ^«« down kt Bracebrida« i ^l"" • ". * *«"^*^ed 
I fittished the play." ^raceondge at Chnstmas, when 

Bleanor sat upright in bed. 
Since when ?» she asked. 

'^^^tl^i'^^X?^^^^^^ '''^^ ^e tad 

work^thout oth^r aii fha^thS! Sr^^'^^l S'^* ^^oeUent 
the night of Christmas Eve NoST ^"^ ^^""^^ Burgundy on 
confession that she had l^struS WmTr**''"? ^**« -her 
it J ^^k'^^^* *^«»' °o* then,''Te 1«id '" ff acceptance of it. 
rt not before we went to BracebS thaf7^ '^Pu^®'^' ^as 

But he could not on nn r„ ^' f • * °°® ^g^t . . » 
would not sup^^hi?^ Zou^ rln^„' i?l^.^?^ weakness 
forbade the infS^y of hisTtXt t^ 7Jol t' ^^^ ^°^ ^«' 

I bed to you," he said at leiSh " Ttn^ ^® deception. 
,, ^i«»nor recoUected with te3 distinS. !1 *^ *t»*-" 
Itr^f Joy that at last. afteTba^n t^'i^iJ*^^ ^^«' of 
able to produce work agahi S^,f !J^' ^"7 had been 
confession to him ; his larShearted w! stimulants ; her own 
of that existed any more ^ ^^"^ ^^ '^ aside. None 

^^She^passed her hand over her eyes, feehng stunned and 

loJ.ZZ-'""' ^^" ''- »M' " I don't know if y„„ e„ 



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THE WEAKER VESSEL 



Of couwe I Mn hombly disappointed," she said. " beoani 
1 nave been thmking that you had. on that occasion anyhov 
shown that you could do beautiful work soberly and normaUi 
But that can t be helped : all you can do is to show it as soo 
as possible. As to t"he other, Harry, you must, as I saic 

"^iwu /^'J®/"?"/ "• ^"** *« ^""^ to-night, you know quit 
well that the best of you agrees with me, when I say you hav 
been an ass. You know quite well it's dangerous fo 
you. " 

He lifted rather heavy-lidded eyes to her, and noddw 
without speech. 

" Now dear, it is late," she said. " I want to go to sleei 
at once, because I am tired. Get to bed quickly 

" I do love you, Nellie," he said. 

" It is because I love you that I care so," she answered. 

Eleanor played the Rat- Wife twice again after this night t 
crowded houses. Her identity had of course become known 
and she became aware, to her immense amazement, that st 
smaU an achievement as hers raised her in the view of th< 
pleasant world that never achieves anything at all on to i 

Sinnacle. She was asked to dine with people she had nevej 
»*«?•;, . "P *^'' ^°^ *^*^ '^®^®' ^eard of her ; and kind 
Mrs. Wilkms sent her a most appreciative letter, asking hei 
on which out of six future dates she would come to dine with 
her, and be .ually welcome on aU. Agents, with addresses 
in iiond btreet, no less, inquired of her, apparently without 
humorous mtention, whether she would accept engagements 
to recite at pnvate parties, assuring her, with humorous effect. 
, that she would be treated with the same consideration that 
was extended to other guests, though very likely many of the 
guests would not in the least have objected to be rewarded 
with a smaU cheque afterwards. Most astounding of all a 
music-hall proprietor made her a definite o£Fer for her appear- 
ance on the boards in the Rat- Wife scene, which, subject to 
her consent, he proposed to put on his stage, without before 
or after, between a Japanese juggler and a humorous Scotch- 
man. 

This offer she found waiting for her type- written, signed, and 
au m order, when she came down to a very late breakfast 
next mommg, to find that Harry had already gone off to 
the early rehearsal. Miss Coventry had sufficiently recovered 
from her indisposition to take the part for which Eleanor 
had been substituted, and a letter from Mr. Anderson, inform- 
mg her of this, seemed to express genuine regret at Miss 






^ THE WEAKER VESSEL 

„ Then th??Sa« « ?° """" «""-n«i""'h« ^^ *• 
found r- OK '™<' °o»- But °„i,. ""P"! mth lim • 

J would havA +!. * 1 ^^"om offered itself f..t^u ^ *® '*® en»- 

[Wie wouid™^ ^S?«*^' '« ««lef to st"^^»d ^/er, 
pove, which mL v ^® ™"st start with ^^i ^ *^** ^^e 



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198 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



the thonffht of thii dnadful gMne of watched uid watcher 
•ickened her. Harry had to work out hia emancipation for him- 
■elf . The best help she could giro him was to show him that 
she entirely believed in his singleness of purpose, and would 
no more look narrowly at him to see if he lapsed from it than 
•he would have tied him up like a dog that is liable to stray. 

It took her long that morning to make herself feel con- 
vinced of the rightness of the attitude here indicated, and to 
bring herself into readiness to ignore all risks. But when 
Harry came back to lunch from the theatre, she welcomed him 
with absolute naturalness. There was no sign that any re- 
membrance of last night remained in her mind, neither sighs, 
nor wan smiles, nor ament-mindedness, nor, on the other hand, 
eflfusive and unnatural geniality to mark the fact that she was 
making a bustling effort to forget. Such watery sunshine 
after i^rms is characteristic of those who, while generous 
enoush not to nag, are not breezy enough to blow the clouds 
completely from their horizon. Their fault is not want of 
heart, but want of vigour. Eleanor in that respect could 
have blown away all the clouds that made the flood of 
Noah. 

" Oh, Harry," she said ; " me at a music-hall ! How much 
in solid bullinn would you give to see mamma's face, if she 
knew I was going to act at the 'alls ?" 

He took the letter she held out to him, looking a little shyly 
at her, with remembrance of last night. 

" Half my goods," she said, " if not more." 

He read it, but without a smile. 

" I shouldn't take it, Nellie," he said, " though five pounds 
a night does seem pretty good for a ten minutes' turn, con- 
sidering you have in all your life only been on the stage for 
about naif an hour. Lord ! what geniuses — ^you and mo- 
live in Moimt Street !" 

" Yes, don't we ? aren't we 1 But you aren't seriously 
serious about it, Harry ?" 

" Indeed I am, though, as I say, I shouldn't do it. You've 
made a hit, Nellie, and there's no doubt about it. If you 
choose, you can use that hit to make a quantity of quite loud 
little taps in different directions. But I advise you to do 
nothing of the kind. Store yourself up till the opportunity 
oomes for making another hit." 

" But you speak as if I was an actress," she said — "regular 
professional, I mean." 

Harry made a healthy inroad on his omelette before 
replying. 



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THE WEAKER VESSEL 199 

tSnwrt fctvoS^^^iS"^. "PPf^ ^ ^^ only iS i 

h.« ikMr"""* " «° '" "•» »"»• " «""' • pig I «n not to 

^Meaner pushed her plate away, and put her elbows on the 
I* But you, Harry ?" 

-neSIkl^T* ^ music-halls ? I would sooner you didn't 
—personaUy I mean. With regard to serious staafl 'vZ* 




u' ?°" °*" **o It, and I know you lone to Thaf « nnif^ 
?? ^^ "^' *°^ °*™® **ehind her chair. 

she said «^n '*'' ^^u ^""^ ^^^^^' *«d ««^er happened," 
the ^hirsai?" ""'''' ^ ^' '"^ ^^ ^* **« ^ *^- Tell^rrSut 
' Come down this afternoon and see for yourself," said he. 






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THB WEAKER VESSEL 



mSf *H? ••^ •* hmU'ptmt two. I feel like a ikreKlri* 
needed. IJejr »U work w h-wd, and the more thev work tl 
iM^red and jeiy oiOMT^MiM Awtnithw i. wov^JrJhe i^ 

SSiio? '^lHV.^^T.'^u ■"^^•^u* "^"^^y with extnK,^, 
Ef5»f. M r*"u "'?*** ■**• "»'<* ■*»• understood what I mMnI 

Sd a^ii" ^R«x% 7*h; r ™H'\« '^" «««iy "^ 

•nu lamoujce. Keally I don t know whether I had not httttm 
ItSnllW ' ^ ^ !* B'jc^bridge. and let her LvT^e JlS^ 
orifi^y wrote it. and as .he feela she can play it. fiStLo^i 

" wf mnTJ ® ''^^ be cleverer after lunch," said Eleanor 
hSI^S ""l "*'. *"*.„ ^* "" f^'^ *l°^n to the theatwTnow 
#n?^' *^°"«.*' *i ".'"" ®*'^y- I'™ not «ure that the wS 

uhlib?^^ ^^ ^'* ^^*' '^'^ *^* p^y «««•% HhS 

«,^?? Anstnither was in a somewhat oompUcated and dan- 

WW lunefi. She had taken immense trouble with her ©art 
hSjiZJ"?.*' *"? *^? predominant mo-ve for her paSeSS 
aSSaffor?S-J^ ^'T ?»":>:• For her rather touclSg 
ffS!!i •/ *™n?8^P to him last night was genuinely eround^ 
J„ tf V*^ *^ ^°"¥^^ ^^«the? she had muchTaSv fw 
fidfllEng her part in that rare and beautiful tSna a frienri 
ship and only a friendship, between a man a^^^om^" 
To her imagmation-and of that she had plentv-^SS» a 

hlhltoVrr^ "^"^^ ^"""^^t' ^^' "P tiFno^XSgh 
Wnm^ •?*'' ''^u^^ P*'?^^"' «^« had never made a frienT 
Women, it may be remarked, she detested, laixely be^aSw 

marxea, were apt to become violent in their inllmacv fih* 

a o^rSS ^^^ "^J" *^^ '*^*d?^ ^*°»« Of friend«hip. demands 
a certam reasonableness, which she was lacking. iS • wher^ 
adoration deals moro with the imagination that ^;.mhi«^ 

wfST* • •/*' il" to be feared she was both irreedv 

Ss ^%h« fli^'P'*r*A^'^^.^^' *"^' unfortunately pEn^ 

WM she who h^//*^^^ X^ '^^^ t^'*^" *^«'' «^«^ ^hen rt 
11^ t ! who had aroused them ; she took without mvinir 
And yet her desire to have a friend was quite genuine^ oS|* 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 20I 

dpotort when h« Im " H™ . "» '».™ula, luit w u » 

Jjn tou'S?^^ il'Cr„tT.^ »JSl.*"">«>°S "O 
With Eleanor by him wm liilJS • ***^ *°.^<*"®' Harry, 
from the -tage. anHftTaThS^ vi * ~^ °' "*•"« ««* '« 
look at him. Eventuallv J* T >^««0' scarcely dared to 
been through the Tona L^en^*^^^^ Miss Anstfuther hiS 

jnd with the TiBtAZZ^';^^'^''^' K"" ^«'* i* »lo^ 
the act. Thatwentmoi^eSS^J^v S""«^^*^^ remainder of 
fully woven. At the end he wSnS ^ ' '? ^** t^*'^' ^'♦*y- c'^ "»- 
"Shall we give the resHf th« iS'^^* *° ^" ^*"'^»»«r. 
our scene bettir ?" he wked »'*«™oon *<> trying to ge* 

-^rtof thecomra^^Xarted'^' ''"' "^'™^«' "^^ *^«« *^^ 
Agartht'^bfSS^h • '' P'^^^'" '»^«»'d. 

»teX^^i£S^^ 

together^'in the^ftauJ^^anTi ^*"? *"^ ^'«*°or whispering 
talking about her X? ^^"^ ^"^ ^^^^^'n that they were 

Perhajs EWr was ImL'T^^'li ^'' '^"tBtion tLfow! 

tWso hard The breSfS.**'"* ^^"'^ Anstruther was 

•nd^'^dT^-Xr^r::^^^^^^^^^^ *^^ ^-* of bad jobs 



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202 THE WEAKER VESSEL 

quL^/r^^^^^^ I tW it up. It is 

8te^ ' '''*^°"* "'°**^' ^°«*' «^« ^a^'hed straight off the 

to^et:5i*lt^^"«'^^^^-*''«-- Thenhecameforward 

wiJlg^sSXk^^,-}^ ^ 

I accfpt thS'"Vi*' \'i^' " S^« ^*« thrown up the iJart. 

;; But Mr. Grey Harry," she said. 

" bS Ha^'^T^**''^ *r^^^ *^ y^'^'" «a'd Grey, 
lean Si V?^' '"^** ^^^ ^ ^'^ ^° ^" ^^^ ««ked "Does he 

mSd when I sSh IV P^ss^^ihty of it. even, wasn't in my 
Sways came » * ^"^ ^"^" ^«^ *° ^^^ *^* opportunities 

at&r h^^i^dia^^^^^^^ '-^ '^^^' ^«^P^-^7 




— Harry 
suggested she. 

Tf^J?°^^'lj?°/ ^? ^^'^ P'^y-" he said, 
athletes by nature AlrSdvsh^^r*^*' ""^^f^ ^'"P^S^ °' 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 203 

^cTted\iSf .t"* T».^'^ ''^'^y- B''* i* ^a« «ot this that 
excited hun ; it was that he would be playing with her X 
actor he longed to do that, as man also.^ ^^ ^'* ^" 

°he turned from him to Harry. 

Choose for me," she said. 

Take it," said he. 

wJ^ an^ nit!°i' ^^?"?® 'S./*^ "^^^ reason-namely, that this 
Sht have S^*^Kr ' f'r''' ^"^^^^^ *" her ambrtio^ 
Saf J ?f u^^^l*^ *^, ^*** ^or years-was honestly 

bttved she c^^JS I'lJ"^-**/^" *^*^ *°^««d ^^'' ^hat he, to? 
word was sn^Si T^^ '""^^ f *.'^^"- ^"^ ^^e moment his 
rTr^Ti spoken, he saw what incidentaUy it cave him— 

rev^ftfd Snr'ln J^^^°^ ^^"^ ^^•^h hfs befto7naLe 
revolted but which his weakness desired. He did not snecifv 

o^cupTtlto,*!^ "^'^l^ ^° r*^ *^« *^d«d freedom thTht 
b^? W« iT ^ ^""^ ^T ' ^^ •'"^y ^°t«d that she would be 
hTZ' .1 ^''^ '"^^'^f P^*^«d the evenings which he would 
tetrh^T' i'^'^x!?'^ '^^ ^°"*d t'e acting! no desig^^ame 
mto his. head It^would still h. delightful to wdcSiieTer 
Srinti;,- Vu ? u ^'^'^ instance, he felt the appeal for friend- 
fo^K^lLtnth'"".^*^l*^?^^- It-^uldSStbeverTeasy 
hL ^^^ '?*^®^, *° ™®®* Eleanor Just at present. It would 

awC^\l ^S'fW ^^^' ^"^^ ^^^ ^««" there w^ no 

SK^n fVot^ •*^''' however, was as faint as summer 

EKr^.f^«5T? ' '■ ^^' *" subconscious, uncalculated. 

anf;rrr?JemTu'lJ:^.a^^^^^^^ ^«^-' ^*- ^- husband's 

at on^ceT ^ltno5ih '^^ ^^l^' i " ^^' ^'' ^'^y' ^*y ^« hegin 
Wm vm, oLtJ ^-^ Pi?y backwards and forwards^ of courae. 
over fust now ^ Tf V" ^^^^ ^l^ ?'^^« ^^^«h you were trying 
Sw hXt T hi ^1 ^- ^t ^V "^^^'^^^l ^^*h the rest to- 

S^niWH I w ^^^''J'' ^^^'^ *he stage at once ?" 
she hTCftt^^.'^*' ^"^ '"^PP^ '' -*« *^« «*^" - -hich 

furnLTin^T/^^'^^u °*.*^^ '*^«*''" «he said, "and the 

th™!"' Do'ilt's: beglL^^'^^^ ^^ ^^^^^^ ^ «^*' -^ -^- - 

thSiV?hlT*'^ r ^""^^l «^ ^<^ ^«^^- He followed her 
tnrough the door of communication, and next moment tCJ 

InSP.r'"'.^^ *^^ ^**g^' ^h"« HanysXat^Hhe stalk 
And then the two started off at once on to th^sceL that 
had swaUowed hours of fruitless rehearsal inwlmew 

waT-ltt^r^l ^'"' •? ^^^ ^^^ -id-back;^Ss and^:" 
rS ' ifi u ^^^' ^"^ '* appeared, the spirit that animated 
It aU. All her mistrust of herself vanished ; she wr an 






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204 

Bee. it's MH T «o«'* ^i f ''"^' '°' *n© xuoment, vou 

•sroTfai " oi™ .rV ^°» ?""' "'ke it m easy 'for me 

you Suet change tfie first two iorfs f v„.. Ji'' ?""?; "">?" 
cues foll„wi„g%„e on tieTthT^If lI^W^^:hn,;''n'f»' 

Shedidn'tSlrtt'JSij;7<'»"»''«lieveitHwiee." 
.. J^' """'' '»*'«'••" ""id Harry. 

»i«.k-"i doYbHtf "'"''*' "'• '''^y '" '"<' "i^"- " y-. I 

El»nor'':^:^^Vs"nr'' °""'' ""^O-Wy «««'. and 

and get out It is RtnnS^Jf ??i •* • m^°* *® ^"'ss the stage 
for 8§ence J^ni^f^H^^'i^- '" f "°^«; there's no need 
like-Just a C?of p1.sTage »~*'''^'^'' «*'^^^' ^^^*«^«^ ^^^ 
She was Stella again without transition. 
«'U8t something," sh a said " v«„ « •* • . -r. 
they don't know ' and A?f !? *1: * ^ ^®?' '* ^^ ^^O' things. 

;; Say It as you go," he said. 

Gre/i^TigVo^er here'" mLII' ^^"^T^f "« ' f^^*' ^^^ Mr. 
could sav that Twf" ^ yj ^^y' ^^^y only guess ?' I 

g.e».: ;Cd«>l^SSat^""TEe2ri.^'^ °°'^ 
Louis ??'• »"" Harry. " Wiil you waitfoTher^ say that, 

ni^^Ir. SyTsh^sfJd""™,!? " "" ^^f^l""^ '"o ^^- 
-o vj.xcjr . aue saia. Or are you tired ?" 

fortS^^prod^Lon^^^J^f/ P^^ '^ t^^e 

.ho. as all ?h? worlX^e^wi tt ^^^^ofthe^Sh^wS 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



and 



t A^l^Jfr^^^^ before, after sHe had left 

te might come and sei her Lrf I ^^^P*'^''-® ^^ ^^7^ askSii f 
some communication from ^t ^'y, W"«ed not to ha^h^ad 
^ IH>88ib]e tha, he w^ld n^-bel^he^^^^^* «««""ed to W 
and she was even prepared idth thf * *"* ^^'^e her part 
be wilhng to do so-n^el^f w *.l""^°^ ^^ch she would 

that the play could not proceed S.'. ? u® *°°^ ^* ^O' granted 
there was an admirabroTpor^^r?'''*°^."°^4uen% 
Then came the three lines in f^f^. ^'^^ 8®"ing her wav 
^Shewasoneofthose^i?flV« T™i°«P*Per- ^' 

down to think. fiA?Zr^°r^^P*^^«<>f fitting 
brams to follow out any Le of f^^fu!'"^ ^*'' *«« scattered of 
out wanderings of wits an^ n^ ''"«^*' ^'^d to construct^th- 
whJe she was^n toTenST^L"'? ^^ P°"«^- ^^' ^ St 
flew mconsecutivelv fT«r»^ "^P^ to trace her cour8« • «f.f 
long she collSrhe^e^ T/.T* *^ ^'^^^^^^'^ Bu^b^fore 
some minutes. Then she 'J^f ^°"«^*' «*i" and silent fS 
on^toHarry. lZt:.l^ltr'^-^^-<^^^y Z^^ 

"I>eabMr.Habby, 

«;at mu«tl"at^*:^:7STurc^^^^^^^^^^ ^ S>' - outburst 
^ut I was at my wits' pmH S -^ ^'^"Idash and uncontrolled 

and struggled ^dtKe partthft T ^' ^°.* *"^ ^ ^^^ stS^d 
of my attempting it. Sit I can'/!?°^'^^^ *^^ topelesC 
throw myself on your mZ^Z !'V'^'' '*' »^d I must simDlv 
JJ,e. I don't wan^ ?o ^oZ\Tt ^T *^** ^^^ ^^ foS 
^^r^J^omparing them !) ^ ""^ ^ ^^" ^« ^^ s*5f ^ 

^iect^ryoS'^SrfhL^^rove^ v^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^ore you 

™ ro- h^-^sSS 5r- " -^^^^^^^ feu 

wST^e^ardiraS^^^^ 

b^« part and the ott?^:^aSetnr£; t^^^^^^' ^^^^ 

P-bably furious With me! ^^ ^^ ^0^1:^^*- tjj 



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206 

time, and teU me what has been settled ? It mav seem t, 

si^c/ii??^" *^i ^ '^''''^^ '^^^ *^^ slightestSsTT it 
smce aU Iliave done was to spoil it, but I do. Oh don^ b^ 
very cross with me. „ . ' °* 

" Sincerely yours, 

"Marian Anstruthbr." 

To^8l??hL*^"« V^""^ "Sf * ^"'^ *° *^*«r' ^'id posted it, 
To say that this note gave Harry pleasure would be a ludi 
crous understatement of its effect". ^It arrivTS after dint 
l^^^^^y, "^ w ^^ ""^ ^^«*°°^ ^'«^« fitting together in hi 
It^'r..^^^' ^"* * T^"^* *^^^°^' ^ad been wonderSe if 
there was no approach to be made to Miss Anstruther fnd 
had been urgmg Harry to write some line of sympathy to her 
explammg-but there lay the difficulty : th^ was nothing 

«'T!5f" ?®«^r°''.^.8'*''^^***^« signature. ^ 

sion T W ^^^ ^^ T^' *"!? ^^S*" '^' ^«t ^thout apprehen- 
it quicSy ''"^''^ altogether, and he ran through 

" Oh, Nellie," he said, " it's the nicest letter ' I didn't 

hT^lf* T""^? r^^t '" S^^^^"«- ^d Bhe though? of it 

Th^TJT **vf ^ *^^ P*"*^ ^ ^«*"- I'« read it to you." 
The effect on Eleanor was hardly less than on him. 

Ihat does relieve my mind," she said. " What a «,>« 

vvnat a Deast 1 am ! Shall I answer it, Harry, and ask hflr 
here and thank her ? You must, too. but sZm?ght hke a 
hne from me also. And I think we ought to teUllr Grey 
because I know he thinks she was outiaeeous " ^' 

Harry looked at the letter again. 

"Better not," he said, " as she doesn't wish it " 

It was true; she did not. 

ftnH^.7f!."i^^*' \**!f*'' ^""^^'"'^ rehearsal had been arranged 
and after an early dmner Eleanor drove down to theStm' 
leavmg Harry to dine with Marian Anstruther. TWshS 
been arranged before it was known there was to be tSs 
rehearsal, and an agitated exchange of telephone meLa^ 
^suited m her coming all the same ; for Eleanor wouTdT 
back by ten, before the evening grew old 

To her these days had passed in the exhilaration of nas- 
sionato work ; she had risen, as Grey had f p ire she woul/Tn 
her opportunity, and hour by hoL she gr^wln i^rpiSion 
Her rnemory for gestures, for pau.es, for inflectir of voice 
aud phrasmg of sentences was admirable ; and she ^med S 



^^^S^"^ 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



or was suggested by Irim hS ?^ i^ fit mode of expression 
exactly, bSt withouf iX ite ori«ter?r'l^*^'*^^^^^^^ '»"d 
whole complex action on thVsS^ r,*^!?' ®^« ^^*J»at the 

-^hplaferaninst^°^ent!tJitZi^^'^'^*^^'^^«^^^^^ 
each instrument in each phWm,,«7r*?.?^/^^ 
adhered to, else the balance Tff^^i, ^'i® '^*H®^ *^d rigidly 
theeflFectbemadeunsteWrTLa^S°^^ T"^'^ ^ ^°«*^^nd 
vibrating, was hers • here also w^! *f"' "?*"''®' sensitive and 

-being ^ade su^^ct 5 ?L 'Cs InH^P*"*^^^^^ 

^t was with a strange excit^mlffl T/ ''^. ^^^ ^*«"ect- 
joaderful growth and^bSS *H**/°tP^y «^^ *^ 
t^3 art, he knew that it was no^ h^'« w ' '*.®''°*,®^ *« ^e ^as to 
that were raised. Had she t,^«T^T?^*^™«*^«^« alon^ 
acting, it would still have beenTnin^.n* '° ^e incapable of 
act with her. That heZLf^? • ^"^o^Parable pleasure to 
doubt whatever cerfcariH"'f "" ^°^^ ^^^ ^^^ he had no 
together were S^inntgTo havTln .r°^f °*^ -l" *^«^' ^^'^^"s 
£r him, and he acteTt^em ^W °1^^^^ significance 
been beyond him up tiSTow for nnwTlf ^ t ^^^^ ^^at had 
spirationcamefromLr Wh^t ma3«7y, -^^ If H^*^ «* his in- 
was that her part was so aro„r^? ^5"', ?P®"*he more potent 
self, and her SowS^ dr^mlf" **® * dehneation of her own 
impersonation*^fTe?se]fThe P^^^ "^^^" «^^^ day t^ 
That maddened and7as«matedw!,^7^Pi«*« «nd natural, 
was. in the action of ZZ^ ^^I^'l at one moment he 
the next moment the scene wZ« rZ ^ i^"" '"^ his arms, but 
who smiled at him ^th 'ilelH^'/^^^^ ^"^ Hany's'wife 
She had not the smallest notion that «^^l^'' unconsciousness, 
sincerity inspired the W^ of hi« iJ?^^ *^.?d« d'^^^tio 
otherwise, would have £en ^LnL m ^'^.^ ' *he situation, 
wonder at the tremendous fo^W^^^,^ >^% ^or did shi 
self nothing in the world was mo^ nl Flt^'^^k ^°^ ^ her own 
the theatre U his Tice trembTH . ^/ *^*" *^® °»hnic life of 
hurt her, she onlVSreve to 1?^,^ "f T^ %*^^«« h^^ 
that she could rise^to Ss letel A W ^ ^"T-" *^^ ^o^«- «o 
required that after the cast7wL ^Z^^^'J" ^^ rehearsals, he 
Pany should act as 5 an act^^Trlf ^"PT^"?*' *^« ^hole cU! 
but, it must be cranterl ?h representation was going on • 
a very unusLi dfrree^"' ^'^^^^^^^^^^^ Practisingf att^ 

t^yp^^r:^ ^:^:^^^^^^^ street 

be the faithful incarnation nf^vl -^ theatre, seemed to 

herlette. Alread^C c^L^^^ Ke^^*,^^^^^^^ 



•^ I ■■ '. ] 



"'■11 



' -if 



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208 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



f i^f '" '^? J»e received her in the room where he and Eleanoi 
always sat. She came in with both hands outstrSShed 

But how nice of you and vour wife to i.,7^^^' t x 
the «.me" she said. ^' But I sff seTierlte'l^^ S:Li'1^^ 
If vou can bear me alone till ten," said he. * »° '*°'' * 
8he looked with frowning anxiety at the clock. 

^nr.^^1 'E^^ T®'«^*', quarter-past nine." she said " I 
don t know tow I can last it out. but I'll do mv best ^ i 
did the other day. with such oharming results LfMA ' 
Bpite and rage a^d incompetence SoTs^ weS ? l^Tn 
me ! How is the dear impssible-for-me pC^oinL ? Doi 
nir:o^:^>''''' rknowshecan5of,WuV^1 
«aid he" ^^""^"^'^y "^^ kindliness that turned out so weU." 

&^V^ -"- -* il ^enS^iS^^ 
puddmg-time, shall we say «" ^'^ 

EllLr."' *^^^°^ ""'^'- ^ ""^^ *^""y ^""'^^ ' «> was 
She looked at him a moment, then let her eyes drop 
She wrote me a charmmg little note." she said " m on^n 
JJttd smcere as-as a daisy. And I am sure sS deseJ?e°^U 
the luck she IS getting, which means a good d^l She wHl 
make a great success of this ; she wiU vaSlt over us all iLd 
^Zt " ^ ^'' °"" ^"' ^' "^" '' ^ ^"«P««* she's J^ as lulky 
lau^gh^d?" *^^ ^o'^'^e^sical conversation had begun. Hany 

" I am not so sure of that," he said. " I have a canacitv 
for givmg trouble that would astonish you » capacity 

" Thlt is'whrrn areU'" ' "^^" «^^^« '^^'^'^'' «^- -d- 

then/ W he" '" ""^^ *^^^ "^"^ *° ^"^^^ '^^^ P'^n)ose, 
" Yes. bless them ! What sort of trouble do you give « Do 

you stay out too late, and come home tipsv «" ' 

It was better to laugh at this. 
" All that sort of thing," he said. 

+h3?Zi^^ f^i ^^ i^^ dining-room without pause in 
their talk ; she had merely taken lis arm when they were 
told inner was ready, and leaned a Uitle on it. ^ 

Who 18 it says that very acute thing about men and 



THE WEAKER VESSFT 

add tC^^^t'^.teS^^o"^^^^^^ then," said she. "I should 

pas8iorW"clX*is'"p^^^^^^^ "Women's 

being envied by other wom^T^ ^"^V ^^^ 1"^"^ of 
husbands and admirers when tS;.,^®^ don't think of ^eir 
O herwise they would a««rueZfff^'''''!™^ ^^*^ clothes 
teilore and men's outfitteif ^^ f 1"^ ^?^f *° *^e windows of 
Dick would look in such a^iri,? w ^^^ ^""^ ^°^«^y Tom and 
theythinkabouttheSldSn^.^^^^ *^^ ^^''^ til Tor Jo 
baby-clothes are S No C f^^''^ ^^ »* the shops wWe 
^alk. hurries between the dressmL '^"'*'J ^^"^*«' o"t for a 
mentaiy train at each in mS T •^®™' *^d stops like a PariL 

thmg comes." "^ ^^^^*« of them, that the beautiful 

Shelaughed. 

"'p •• sltS.'^' " »««"«'"'• « let -e have .„„e water 

u 



f 



i 






5 ?. 



"'iij 



m 



210 THE WEAKER VESSEL 

But It , K much moer than appU-juice " wid^iS^ 
eveninirs wKh« lv!JL *? definite shape. Those dehcio 

this beautifTa^ffiSl ^"^ keen pleasure to be wit 
• generous a friend aSd who h^^""' ^'^^i*^ shown herself, 
could not fail to touS him ?n. ?^ fVP^^ ^^ » manner tb 
in her to Xh h?s natum i^«^' fnendship. There was thi 
excited hiZ^her cL™ a^lrS7if-^^ " «Je ««m«lated him. sh 

ness over^hrplayTdearTd h^'tTv*""'^"^^^^^ ^^ 
first he came in contart^? if J? *^?'; Somehow, whe; 

had repelleTlir or *S aTt nath V ?^ T^T^ °^ ^«' "^^^"^ 
had feft, at a^ rkte tha A ^ ^^!^- '*~°« » ^o«l. h 
her alone. b^tYa week ^^ot^ J^^^^^ ^ «n" ^^^ ^« 
away all violence Tf hnf o^? ^ '^' ^^.^ ^®®"^«'* *<> have pu 

armour ^ h Xh Jhe met The h^ ^'^*"j ' ^* ""^ »'"*^^" 
below lay this beautiful rStu,l hardness and enmity of hf e 
she lik Jyou oXSl fko f' •'*/°" ^®^ ^®^ ^^y » lit«e, ij 
for instant Sad ^oXTu^*"^^^ Louis, 

that seemed a wess s^ S« *i®t?^««««ess {or her. Abeadj 
credible tSt it^as tWsT^r J i. ""^I^ ^^^^ ^* ^" l^'^Ij 
did not know herltlu iJ iSlfl ^\t'^i^ ?*' '* ^^^ ^le*' he 
She t^-u^aZu ' ^® ^®"^® *^a* he himself alreadv did 

his'ttlTentTo'iriSSrS f •'^ -«»S Pii^ on 
him nothing -in her owr^^nSfl I^^ stnngency she showed 
she was a long Yet^e nL.f "^^^.^ j^^ ^*« *" '^-^'^^''^ / 
or was sugar^ln tone for?W '^f.^l ^''^^ sentimentality 

guard. sL Yold £ Vher past wf ^^^^^ P'l' ^"^ «^ ^« 
tions. She edited the volum« of\f ' *' struggles and ambi- 

up the thread of thfpLS al^ Tf '"^^^ *^^,*^'^ ^^^ 
that, as she had said ?Eo„M^^^' ^*' "^J^^ hkely true 
self, but she com^seTmchZ^^ ^^i""^''^^^''' 
wished with astonlC'reahsm T^l ""^ ^T^^ *« «^« 
revoltinclv susDininnTf^ ^„ ^ ™*° ™"st have been 



THE WEAKER VE8BEL 
of work ha. lort none of it. «. . ^^^ 211 

I am prepared to if T can Ji ^ ^® *»^ed. 
, ' You will not act witj. ? ^^* * PV-" 
asked. ^* ^*" ^uw again do i7«„ 

brought to a head ftL»k J "" reasons. TW— v 
»av fliat i>« 1. I ,'™ "tier dav. Nnt f!,. ^ ""re but 

OTm «^1* T ^ behaved badlvto m<^ ' ' moment do I 
OTOo, that I mean that. I tao» thStT^"" """sta't think 

•o be tied eSyT^ » »»»«• B„t wom»?S'A^i» „^« 

She made an excellent eestn™ „f • * 

I «n quite a £ool'"h*^^5° °^.'Sf»«once at herself. 

That Sail Shi.? """^ ' '"«™d to plaV^i Z^.'''*'- Where 
SheZ^dn'^^:;%n^^^g«-'£/eaTot'^e"to^^^ 

sa''jfH^j!j-.£i™tZo?rhX"£rS»°^^ 



I 



212 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



H»ny WM Ioy*l to Iiim in hit wMk way, m weU m traitfnl 
of her. 

" Let lu leave it like that, then," he said. 
But her attitude seemed to him unboundedly admirable. It 
was woven, too, of the same fine stuff as the generosity of hei 
attitude towards Eleanor. Warmed with wine and rather subtlf 
flattery, he found himself thinking that she had a great nature. 
He made a vivid movement as of dismissal of this subject. 
••The pUy," he said— '•the play I shaU write for you. 
One has to benn talking about it some time. Why not now ?" 
She laughed with unassumed, unreserved pleasure. This 
impulsive, eager young man, a year or two her junior, had 
a very vivid attraction for her. 

'• Oh you adorable boy !" she said. •• That shaU be your 
name, for it really describes you. You are just ' Boy.' " 

The name was not amiss : wine, the stimulus of her com- 
pany, the sense of gratified sensation gave him an extia- 
oroUuary youthfulness and sparkle of face. 

I* But I'm old, antique, a seasoned cynical playwright," he 

•• Eighteen next birthday. Tell me, how do you write ? 
Do you sit down stoUdly after breakfast, and write all morning, 
80 many pages, so many words ? Words ! Just fancy ! I 
know a dreadful novelist who writes two thousand words a 
day, and when he has finished he plays patience. As if it 
was not enough to write one word a day, provided it was the 
word. No, I don't see you sitting down at ten o'clock, with 
orders not to be disturbed till one. I see you much more 
easily sitting down at the other ten o'clock, because your 
moods are working in a sort of frenzy till any o'clock at all. 
Do write my play like that. I'm sure you wrote 'The 
Dilemma ' like tnat." 

Again they had moved back into his room, without pause 
or break in their talk, and sat side by side on the sofa 
•• Yes, that's how I like to work," he said. 
" So of course you do." 
He shook his head. 

" No, I try to work the other way," he said. " I expect 
that really the best and solidest work comes in the dull 
morning way ; only, for me at any rate, it is harder to do. 
You see, it can't be very good for one, sitting up, and perhaps 
smoking a lot, and— and drinking whisky-and-soda, and going 

to bed at any hour of the morning " 

•' But, who wants it to be good for you. Boy ?" she asked. 
" You've got this wonderful gift of making plays, and it's 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 218 

your buBinew to make them. You must make them under the 

bS a?hllfli;"'P^y'«"'* *^^« your lemonade? wdgo^tS 
l)ed at half-past nme. But what does it matter if vou fe-1 

real WOK— made something to exist." 

SS' nn !^/^ u'^*l' ^*** **™^^ ^o ™"ch one night, and had 
Si^h^^fdenllr''^^*-"^ ''^" *»*** ^-'^^ P-« °' ^I-««- 

much"^lS*'LT*"i '^!i'* ""^T*.'" »^« '«'k«d- " There is too 

to Lk liTn ff v'""' '*°^. "'^'^^^ "« ^"8»» ^^^ Pl«~"« 
theSrxo,£bl.nn^v" '*!? 8^!f "»* *^»*' « yo" will accept 
ewe TS^ Ir.?'^*''*"' °^ production. Larki can't sing in a 
Kid ai^lrJJJ ^ *P* unless there is a wind ; and why 
"tons ? Yo^, 4wf P*'f V ^ \"^ to work under aU condi^ 
Sh^Ller'^rooThe is^i^' " ' " * ^'^^^^ "^^ ^^ -^^ "P ««"- 

wJ?dXe"usXL'"'"^"« *^' *'^ *^« **^** '- »^ *^ 

" 73:" T*"7 *¥"^ *^** ^" *ie said. 
1 don t think it at all. I know it Bov Sohia npnnlA 
can produce the most inspired worl with Lat rrioCS 
Wd conscientiousness of aim. Others haveCget rid oTaU 
sense of responsibility before they can do an^WnT But 
^^Z'l/:^;:S^:.'?r --^ -. it is ceiTaiTtliat^y-o!; 

tJrtwSnSl"* \'^'^ **,?P*«<^ to tell her, wishing rather 
token mfh!h^*^ ^^^ would toke the yiew that EleiSior had 

uaauigence , but it was beyond him to sav "I work ht^nk 

f*!;.! ii^ . ^^ guessed his secret, and did not care 

difmn- t^f », ^'''J ^^^''^ y**"^ ^^^d to work under any con- 
ditions you choose to impose on it ?» he asked. ^ 

"It^.T^rite'^a «3^'/* ^"' ^^^ up figures," she said. 

AiL*bith°'Z«'?n **'%^r' °P^°^' ^^'i Eleanor entered. 
^S, nn th^ r *"* «'*®*. ^®' • agaii^-and with greater for^e 
SS^ptt .''""" °— --he had the sense o'f causing^' 



.1'' 



l: ■■] 



CHAPTER XIII 

Fob once there was complete unanimity in the London 
Frets ; they hailed the new star that had risen last night with 
entire cordiality. A hit was too weak a word to express their 
estimate of Miss Ramsden's acting ; she had given them an 
absolute knock-out, and long paragraphs completely about 
her left them, it appeared, still silly at the end. But, lest 
it should seem that the millennium had set in, they disagreed 
with unusual discord over the play itself. It was mawldsh 
and sentimental, touchins and human ; it was strong ; it was 
weak ; it was a notable advance on Mr. Whittaker's first plav ; 
it was a lamentable fallins-off. The first act promised wpVi-^ 
the first act was nothing but the merest twaddle ; the seooud 
act was a great disappomtment after the excellent first act — 
the second act was pernaps the finest second act ever produced. 
Its comedy was admirable — its attempts at wit were de- 
grading ; its dialogue was sparkling— its dialogue was ditch- 
water. The third act dazzled and satisfied profoundly— it 
wasn't a third act at all, but was a dinner-table richly decor- 
ated, but with nothing to eat. It affected the house pro- 
foundly — ^it set the house yawning. It must be severely out 
to render it tolerable — it left you gasping at the tremendous 
speed and fire of it. There were ten plays in that one act — 
there was not the smallest dramatic interest. The whole 
play, in fact, had a very mixed reception, and it was received 
with unbounded enthusiasm. But — and they all agreed again 
— Miss Bamsden met with a tremendous ovation. 

But Miss Ramsden alone knew how narrowly her triumph 
had been saved from disaster. Her call came some ten 
minutes after the beginning of the act, and she waited by the 
door where she would make her entrance, feeling superbly 
happy and confident. Her cue came, and she entered. And 
then, quite suddenly, she was seized with the panic of stage- 
fright. She saw Louis, and knew that she had to advance 
towards him and say her first words. She saw the row of 
footlights and the packed stalls beyond, and she could neither 

2U 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



SIS 



she said. 



moTe nor ipe^ bat feh her knee* nuUdng tattoo aniiut 
••oil other. She did not know why she wm there or why 
•nybodv eUe wm there ; they and ahe aUke were as meaning- 
less as figuwe in a dream. She heard the prompter say some- 
tiling, and reooflnized the opening of her own speech, but it. 
too, meant nothing. And then she looked up to the stage 

tSl' ?^^- *¥ ■**88,^»» »»o' stepmother, next came her 
father, then Miss Anstruther, then Harry. Harry was looking 
at ber as if he was made of stone, absolutely motionloM. 
Aiiss i^trutherwas smiling— as if to encourage her, was it I 
inen she turned to Harry, and whispered something. Eleanor 
felt she knew exactly what it was. She felt sure she was 
it^^ ^^f^ ".A^ °»»*ter with her ?" And as she felt 
r A, u * , "I "P®" *^** ^^^ ^^' *>«>J'e. She put her head 
a uttle back, thrusting the chin forward, the delicious irregular 
enule came luco her face, and she spoke in that tender, sUghtly 
nusky voice that carried with ease up to the last row of the pit 
•no gallery. The words were absolutely simple. 

Such a dance of daffodils down by the lake.' 
" It IS spring at last." 

It was not only her voice that carrioJ so well : it was she 
who earned. 

She swept her audience away. A fortnight ago, as Rat- 
mfe, she had taken them into the weird, vague twilight 
where dwell the uncanny forces of the world ; now she brought 
them spnng with the mating of birds and blooming of flor ^ws. 
She created the atmosphere of youth and budding romance, 
and one critic decided to begin his critique (which he did) 
by saymg "Perdita has been bom again," while another 
made a mental note of " It is April, and Primavera has come 
among us" (which also he remembered to reproduce). To 
the end of the act she never released the house from her 
enchantment. 

The curtain fell on her and Louis, and as soon as it was 
down, he came across to her. 

" You've got them," he said. 

Eleanor took a moment to divest herself of Stella and 
become herself. 

'' What ?" she said. 

"It's splendid ; it's magnificent." he said, raising his voice 
to be heard above the din on the other side of the curtain. 

Oh, is it really ?" she asked. " How glorious for Harrv I 
I knew they would like it." 

He signed to the curtain controller. 



% * 



216 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



"It's going up," he said. " We'U take this caD together " 
Once more the panic seized her. wgeiner. 

th/wanl'''"'*' ^'' ^''^" '^' «*^^- "B«"d««. it « you 
He laughed. 

He^dlSfn^rV ?^ r^?- " W« «h»« ««e about that." 
hou^ Then h/ir* °i *^ '?«^' «^^ »>ot^ bowed to the 

S?'„f 'cknowledge the fact without reslrve It s 

Sand wT f'.f 'h \»"y' »"<' !*"» •"»« appeared 

rn^' ff?"^™ distinguished herself by being » dissentient 
k^ her heV^id r L'.\"* '^° ""^/""^ ^-^eSX^ X 

c-'Ter.iSS Sr* "^^^^^^^ "o" 

Mt-Ke;-,aSS?— « 
she s^d •' " f^ fif" ' ''fS.' ^*»"'" '^ i"" » good supper " 

ft''ij5^»'--*-^"«^ci^rh:-^r^i-! 

del'r/^^id he ° '"'«'^* '"^''•'° '"•""« y°" "» »" her, my 



THE WEAKEE VESSEL 217 

Han^';LTtht^^^^^ = You mean thai 

be done. I am sure thaf ^L ^^^ *^®'' '^'^ ^ ^c^ng to 

written for her atall » ' "* ^™ ^member, it was not 

«adily. Axid weVust wish I? ?u\ \^"^ J°^ ^^ ^^ most 
and have her hldTumed '• *^** '^' ^^ ^«* ^« «Poiled 

Th^® J" wish that," said he. 

into M^^^SSl'^^^^^^^^^^ ^^ P'^* ^'^'^l^e' bri^t thoughts 

twis?rhe?LVutV' s^^safd^'^'Ti^^^^^^ ««*« *^** q'^-^' 
I was she. It makes Win^v -^ f^ouW have it seen to, if 

ia not. She iXd't: t '^ t^t'k^^^ ' ^ ^^ «^« 
mydeaT'f^dh: "^ ' *^^^«^* ^^ *"' Picture of health. 

J^Mor"et.gSIthi?' ?lt r^ -«y- Thank you. 
that French word Tor aUth«n«rf ^'T *^« ^ remembe^ 
the theatre in order t^ applaud^' ^^^^ "'^'^ ^"^ «^^"^ P^«^«« ^ 
Claque?;, he suggest. 

applause Semed^toTe'To^co^i^r" '' ^* ^" *^^*^«- The 
of the house in th?!?! come from one particular comer 
Eleanor! Thaveno do^hf^T'^ i*^'* °PPo«te us. W 
I would not spoH her pleasure b^'^ ^".*>^8 **^"* *»^**' «^d 
actore come back do thev nnf 7 '"««««*m« i*- How quickly 
hands J Papa alwavs Zh f ' ^ ^.T' " ^^^^^7 «^a^ their 
applause at^the Sre and „n*^ ^^^^ *^^^ sLvadhe no 
afterwards, as it tSe^'at^l T ^JPPean^ce of the actors 
Whatdoyouth.V.k*:t^^^^^^ of the play. 

we have iadl dShtfil t P^^'*^* ^'^^^m'" «aid he. " H 
who have given it us » '^^'^«' ^^ ^«»* to thank those 

" ^* "°'^' '« ^^^ -" « - had not paid for our seate. 



f ih 



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218 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



But, having paid, we must expect our amusement or improve- 
ment." 

Mr. Bamsden got mildly exasperated. 

" But we didn't pay for our seats, my dear," he said. 
*' Harry very kindly invited us." 

Mr. Ramsden had nearly picked up all the fragments. 
There was one big one left, however. 

" I am glad I did not bring Alice," she said. " She would 
have been so much distressed when Eleanor came on at the 
beginning and didn't seem able to speak or move. And I 
am not sure, either, that it is the sort of play I should like hei 
to see. There is no doubt that the yoimg man was in love with 
Stella after her marriage. I should Uke Ahce to be in ignor- 
ance of such possibilities. I shall go to bed, James. We 
lunch with Eleanor to-morrow, do we not ? That will be a 
pleasure, and now I need not be nervous about it, as there is 
no doubt she was not a complete failure." 

Easter was late this year, and a fortnight of crowded 
houses, with Wednesday and Saturday matinees, intervened 
before Louis Grey closed the theatre for the week preceding 
Easter Sunday. Probably such closure would never have 
entered his head, had it not been that Eleanor clearly never 
contemplated acting during that week. In previous years 
he acted, as far as he remembered, up till the Thursday, and 
reopened again on Monday, but the question of acting during 
that week at all was never discussed between them. She had 
made her plans to go down to Bracebridge from Monday till 
Monday, merely assuming that there was no idea of perform- 
ances then, and he felt that he would sooner have trampled 
on a child than questioned her assumption. At the same 
time, he was a little puzzled about it, for she alluded to her 
proposed holiday oddly one evening Just before the holidays, 
when he supped at their flat in Mount Street. Harry was 
there ; there were Just the three of them. Eleanor was in 
spirits that must be described as huge ; success suited her 
admirably. 

" What a pity the early Fathers of the Church didn't put all 
the festivals together in a week, as they have it at Leeds and 
Sheffield !" she said. " Wouldn't it be heavenly 1 There 
would be Christmas and the two holidays to follow, and then 
the Epiphany straight off, and then Holy Week and Easter 
Sunday and two more hoUdays, and then Whitsunday and 
another one. It wouldn't be a week ; it would be about three, 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 219 

and we should have done it all • Or HiH r»,«-o*™,— n 
haK,en in December, and Easter about ^SL ^W^ a'S 
that not one of the Apostles kept a diarT'" ^ ^^ 

ChristirnT'h^l'i? ^"^t ^""^'i*^ ^*^°^ *^« festi^ak of the 
thTffod?*?^^^'^"'* ^^^^^y *« "^^'^^^J^ »8 *he birthdays of 
for «n^f ^'^ goddesses of ancient Athens, felt that EleSor 

£ve5 rhaH^^^ T^T *>^*«Pi^«W against what shX 
conte%i*ted^^^^^^^^^^ impossible, not even to bo 

speak u£ this AnH hi^l^ ^T^' ^""i y^* somehow she could 
opea-KUKe tms. And his astonishment betrayed itself in sneech 

So your feasts do not seem much to you ?" he as^ed 
eqSChii'^^^^ "* ^" ^ astonishmU that mo^^ than 

pre'vSrlh^rK '^'' *?-®y "^^ '" «^« ^^d. " But that does not 
prevent their bemg tiresome. It is absolutely horrid to me 

n^'L' airfhel- T^ '\ "°^i^ ^^ mu^h'^^^lVVnit; 
them • Oh H^^V^^^^f together But fancy not keeping 

do^ hoSe'^th^J."^^ ^"'^ ^'' ^ ^^"^ ^^«^^«^ "«* *« «ome 
"But you begged me not to," he said, 
^ileanor laughed. 

she Lw°'^«Vi'^'/"^ v^P^^ you would insist on coming." 
S™ i T> ^?' .4®*'^' ^* s ^o use insisting now. If vou co 
mrhe^fCy^r' I »"»•». -<• papa wo„ld JLfhaf: 

"But mamma wouldn't," said he. 

one laughed again. 

" No ; mamma can't bear me. But she's got to. Besides 
you are gomg to stop here and work tremendously hard. Oh 
n,oi,n ^°>K *°°^ ^^'^^^ *« *t^ week. Church everv' 
fS^J^*^. T'T'"' 1^^'^'^ ^«d gospels. Then S- 
ht^K^ *5r® t^""^ f^'"^^^®' »°d papa preaching seven 
Mtle sermons with a hymn between each-everv two isn't it 
p^mmatically ? I've never missed one yet, 2 fw'al ? cln 

Tu h« fc'' T!^* ^^".° ^>" ^«^««P- The old daring says 
aU he has got to S8^ in the first tfiree, and then he^W to 

iSf^' ^ • o '^ y*"" ^*^® ^ *^e least recovered from 
Friday, it is Sunday. Everybody is so cross on Sunday 






'^ 



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evening, because they are all simply tired out. But you must 
keep birthdays and other days, you know. You wouldn't 
like it a bit if you didn't." 

Some glimmerings of purpose began to appear in what 
Louis Grey had thought meaningless ritual. Eleanor could 
talk profanely, so it seemed at firot, about these things : at 
the best it was only a sort of custom that appeared to dictate 
the observance of tiresome days. But then a light broke. 
Tiresome though they might be, they were anniversaries : 
they represented something to her which was in her heart. 
Very possibly the observance depended largely on upbringing, 
but no inconvenience in the observance suggested to her, 
ever so faintly, the thought of discarding it. She could not 
discard the observance of that which represented a vital fact. 
Her mention of birthdays humanized it and explained it to 
him, and he knew that it was without mental transition on 
her part that without pause she talked of other birthdays. 

" Mamma's, for instance," she said. " Wasn't it awful of 
me ? I knew it was mamma's birthday last Wednesday, and 
didn't write to her in the morning, because I was dreadfully 
busy, thinking I would telegraph late. And then — ^well, I 
just forgot, until the middle of the second act, when I had 
to say the word ' birthday.' And then I got so excited over 
the play, that at the end of the act I forgot again. Oh, 
Hany, it is a good act." 

"And you are going to stop up for Easter, working?" 
asked Louis of him. " New play ?" 

Harry glanced with a little impatience at his wife. He 
had not meant her to mention this. But a direct answer was 
better than evasion, since the fact was there. 

" Yes, I'm writing a play for Marian Anstruther," he said. 

Eleanor had caught and interpreted his look. 

" Hany, you didn't mind my saying it, did you ?" she 
asked. 

Somehow that irritated him further, but his irritation, since 
it was quite unreasonable, could not be expressed. 

" Not in the least," he said. " Louis was bound to know." 

Louis could not see the reason for this roughness. 

" But I am deUghted," he said. " It is true she kicked 
herself out of ' The April Morning,' but of course I am glad 
that you hope to give her a good play. I annoyed her some- 
how, I am afraid.' 

Harry was in arms for her quite unnecessarily. 

" I hope you don't think she expressed her annoyance to 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 221 

T;i" f ® ^!?- " ^^"^ ®^*^"^y »^ed to do so. indeed she 
said she had no complaint against you at aU." ' 

Jfcie had to answer this. 

"But of course she had not," he said. 

»if:,^f- *fe®® ^^^'^ suddenly was bom an uncomfortable 

is eJther'of^th^o.r ?"^'l^^°« * ^«°^*" ^^' who^STjir 
as either of the other two knew, no defence was necessarv 

Louis wiM justifying himself, when no justification w^' 

needed ; Eleanor heard her husband champion n« a woma^ 

whose generosity had been amply acknowl^edX her S 

the sitatLn *^***^^« *« ^'"^^y- She^riedV^Ste 

said^^'I^/r ^^, flirting outrageously with Maria:,, she 
T^t'^ and Im not a bit ealous. Isn't it lucky ? She's 
tJihk .^^*«r^ «ith«F of you may think. But I'm sure you 
both think so too, and if somebody, preferably Mr Grev Bino« 
his cigarettes are the nicest, doesn't give me one ^' shaU 
expire, and Hany won't be able to write any p°ay at aU 
because .jadowers cease doing anything for a y4 after^Us 
Oh thanks, Mr Grey ! Now Hany cL go on with hTplay* 

Harry gave an immense yawn. 

K^ ^"t* ^ 7^"^^ *° 8*" ^ ^^®®P'" he said. " I want to co to 
bed. I got up at six this morning." wnni, w> go to 

f h« mn J7'\^*"*^'^ 1^'" e^P^ained Eleanor. " He says 
the mormng hours are t\e best. PersonaUy I hate them !"^ 
.. ? '^^ ^*'^®'^ *^'ed them," said he. 
But what hbel ! You told me I used to awake vou bv 
repeating the second act !" ^ "^ 

.hli7^^: ^'^V°!?,?®7®^ *^oke yourself. Do you know I 
shall go to bed. If I flirt with Miss Marian, I give youoppor- 

^l ^ ^T?,^**^ ^°^«- Th^* i« o^ly fair. But d?n't 
flirt foudly. NeUie, or you wiU wake me. And be quite sure 
you put the electric light out." ^ ^ 

wh^Lv!r .*i!'K— .*^^ T""^'* nonsense, it meant nothing 
whatever ; to him it meant nearly nothing, to Louis it had S 
meanmg so real, a reality so terrible, that t got uriaugSng 
I never heard a less cordial dismissal," lie said. ^' You 
might as weU have said that the last omnibus between MouSt 



222 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



Harry recovered his maimers. 

"But don't go," he said. "Surely you know me well 
enoush to know I was onlv fooling. And surely we are all 
friends enough for you to let me go to bed when I choose ? 
What's the matter ?" 

" My dear chap, nothing is the matter, of course. But it 
is frightfully late. Surely I may go to bed too, and allow 
Mrs. Whittaker to do the same. But I must shake hands. 
Stella and I part for ten days. It is very serious." 

" Anyhow, I introduced you," said he. 

" Yes ; and a thousand thanks. I, too, wish all the festivals 
were lumped together. I am stopping up in town, too, for 
Easter. Perhaps we shall meet, Hany.°' 

She interrupted. 

" Oh, Mr. Grey, don't ask him to dine with you," she said, "or 
piay bridge, or anything. He is going to work fearfully hard. 
And he is so unpleasant when he is working. Good-night !" 

"I'm more than half-inclined to come down to Brace- 
bridge with you, Nellie," said he. 

" Well, then, don't, but ring the lift-bell for Mr. Grey. 
It sticks sometimes — the lift I mean — ^Mr. Grey, and that is 
wildly exciting. Good-night." 

Harry returned alone to the flat the next evening after 
seeing Eleanor off. For the past fortnight he had been waging 
a very uphill battle with himself, and he was still so far 
victorious up to the moment of her going ofE alone, that if 
she had encouraged it, he would have gone with her, instead 
of remaining behind in a freedom that he well knew was 
dangerous. At the same time his victory over himself was 
not so decisive as to allow him to tell her that he felt unsafe 
alone, nor to hint to her the existence of a second danger, 
of which at present she suspected nothing. All this fortnight 
he, with an effort that, though successful, was despairing, had 
completely kept off drink, and had also sat for hours daily 
at his desk, waiting for the inspiration which would not visit 
him. Sometimes he had got up, as she had said, very early, 
and had written fragments that in themselves were quite 
passable portions of a play. But the play as a single com- 
pobition would not form itself in his mind, and no number 
of little detached scenes brought him any nearer it. He was 
doing patch-work instead of weaving a *abric. And all the 
time the evil counsel that Marian had given him, when she 
told him that creative work could not be produced except 



J 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 22S 

under the inexorable conditions which the creative minH 
imposed, was raining ground in his brain. fiSinglt^^lh ySSy 
f^-5'^^^ ^l«^' *°°' *^« knowledge that iTwM^vS 

SS^ tSi h^ ^T f~T«.^y *^ ^^'^^ that it waT^Jd 
IbiB tune he had set a hmit on what he thought were Wa 

gwers of endurance thus planning surrender^ As long ^ 
Eleanor remained m town he would be able to resist -whe^ 
she went, he would yield. He did not want to S so thlt 

hS stonnrTh^ tT ^^« -i"!«g to go witrher. but he 
naa stopped. She, still pursuing her plan of aivma him Hai. 

Sisiu^sLd^; ^^ '-^'-' '"' - id?;of ^co':r 

way with weak and defenceless men, for his love for wf^e 
had in no way suffered diminution. It had not paled fn^e 
s^'^l.^^ T*^"' passion and he told hfmseS tK wo^ld 

Sps it wotlH 7'."^ *^'*^^^^ ^^««" ^"d Marian 1^ 
pernaps it would, but it was necessary for him to craan that 

rein f''^^''^' ^^^ ^"^ ^'' hSiseS m^et tfS??at?on 
face to face, saymg he was strong enough to withstand it 

tad and run from temptation. But that requires bra^eJvS 
face it needs only cowardice. oravery , to 

ar,?^*?"*^"* *!''''*' ^h- ""'S^*' n^eaning to work long and late 

S?her Vrt J!T?*^'''' ^^^^'-^ ^^'^ ^^*° *^« haids of the 
«ii V r ^® '^^.* "^^y o^ resisting dangerous thoughts was 
^^'ll ^ °,^«"Py himseK closely, to let his work absorb hS 
and the only way of doing that was to give it the conditS 
It needed. He was to see Marian to-monSw. for he was dS 
with her and there, again, if only he could bring Tme 3 
section of work to read and discuss with her, 2!reTonldd 
less danger of looking towards the fields of trespass How fw 
^e suspected that passion had dawned for 1dm he diTnot 
faiow. She had made great friends with Eleanor it seemed 
to ham. and of late she Ead treated him with Tbreezy sort of 
famiharity that somehow rather piqued him It Vko ?t 
may be remarked, represented to Eleanor a ve^nice comSde- 

L^cro?tt Lw'^-r'^'^ ""y f^^^'^g sen^mentaT^ha; 
aspect ot It, how it was meant to strike Eleanor hs^^ ««*^ 

occu^ed to him. For. in spite of the tricks he pW^^^ 
hmiself, the excuses he so ingeniously discovered and used 
conceahng his want of behef m them there was ^ ^^Z ^ I 
sunplicity and guilelessness in his es^ima^of XI \^ 



i -il 



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f 






very easy to deceive him ; he was apt to put the best oon> 
struction on the doings of others, and was ready to take them 
at their word. The success of such a mode is not always 
conspicuous, but the mode is disarming^ and lovable. 

He worked that night with a brilhance and a certainty 
that he had never attained yet. His creative power had 
stored the treasure-house of his brain with its wares ; it but 
needed the opening of it. First one and then another of his 
tentative scenes was torn up : they were patch-work of mean 
material, now that the real loom hummed and buzzed, putting 
out from the darkness of its weaving this splendid fabric. 
Hour after hour went by, his subconscious mind wholly 
absorbed and busy, his conscious mind dwindled to a pin- 
point, intent only on one thing — namely, to prolong this 
felicitous hour by careful administration of stimulant. He 
knew fairly well now the degree of «saltation required ; a 
little less and he drifted back into normal activity again; a 
little more and intoxication got hold of him. Careful steering 
was needed, else on one side or the other he ran aground. 
For the past fortnight he had cudgelled his brain, fruitlessly 
so it appeared ; now he harvested a royal reaping. 

His fire had long gone out when he put down his pen, 
and returned to a world that for the last six hours nad 
passed out of existence for him, and he saw with amazement 
that it was after four o'clock in the morning. But when he 
came to take stock of those hours, he found ample evidence 
of them, a pile of papers by his right hand ; a mound of 
cigarette ends at his left ; and on the table in front of him a 
jug of water and a whisky bottle, both nearly empty. Then, 
*!l^ he remembered for whom his work was written — that 
"Tjerless woman, so full of moods that varied from haunting 
tndemess to maddening perversities and unreasonableness. 
They had all been stored in his brain, and now he had given 
them all back, setting them in Jewels of speech and clash of 
dramatic incident. Marian owed him something for this. 
She, when it was read fco her, would be the first to acknow- 
ledge it. Yet what did he want of her ? And his heart 
flamed and showed him. 

He felt hot and excited, and went to the window, drawing 
back the curtain. It faced eastward, and in the quiet sky 
above the sleeping town a few low wisps of cloud had caught 
the blink of the coming day. Fifty feet below the street 
was pearly dark, and empty of traffic. He must sleep, too, 
not indulge in fancies. And then suddenly he knew he was 



-fism 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 225 

tsJuThi'. ^3?2"°**1?*"*.u°* production had retarded the 
^^^ ^* dnnkrng. Now that the excitement was over it 
wsuiged upon him, and he Btumbled to bed. ' 

he^na*M *il1f °'^®" f^*** ^® «^°"^** °o* ^ o»Ued until 
8leD?^S^H *^"' «d ^Pke noL until nearly noon. He had 
Slept off the excess of the night, as far as physical liabiliH^i. 
were concerned, and it wa, with an exTr^Srv sent of 
unexpected freedom that he found himself rSdrWs 
dressmg-room Instantly his mind recaptured its con! 
jciousness and it was with nothing but Joy t£at he recolle^t^ 

i;j«h7f ^1 ^"?''' . "^^^ J^^' *««• he realized thlTawh^ 
thought r^r ^*y^".f«>"* of hi°»- and for the first time the 
h«W ? ^^^*"*'' }'T3 *^*y ^"««^1 no regret. Hitherto 
he had always crawled back into a flabby pcnitoncei now?t 
was with a sense of pure relief that he found he had noWot 
to be penitent. He had no wish in the world except to wo?k 
His conscious mind awoke a little more, enoucli to enable 
him to press the bell that lay close to his head a^d next 
moment Morris brought him in a cup of tea. and drew up the 
blmds Mature sunshine splashed into the room and he 

for that showed how perfectly he had slept. Cold bath m5 
no breaWast was his order, ""but lunch at one and all Ws 
physical instincts thriUed with the pleasure in f m^t of him 
Ibey were simple and sensuous, and filled his horizon. The 

?ts fluTd Jv' AnTr ^ * "^TJ t^^^^y P*^^«d' *«d restoreS 
its fluidity. And he hurried to the cool coffin of cold water 

waitmg for him with an exquisite foreboding of plej^ure 
Then he stripped off his night-suit, and with disdaS of sZS 
or soap, plunged bodily in, letting his head go under 3 
feeling, with a rejuvenated sense, the thrill and healing of the 
water. Certainly he had drunk too much last night bu? 
this cold ripple entirely restored him. He was himself again 
^nH f ?J ^'\'°^^- , I^*0P«ati«n was a physical concStfon' 
and another physical condition cancelled it. He glowed S 
the corrective chill. AH his brain was in flame Lar 
n, Then for the first time he allowed it to look forward 
o-night no such feast was spread again, for he was dining 
out somewhere . . Oh, he knew where, and with whom ' 

Not more than five minutes had elapsed since his first 
awakmg. They had been vivid enough, but now thS 
vivictoess sank mto torpidity. AU that work last night was 
directed towards one thought. Now the thought shJne and 
burned, and once more his mouth was parched and his heart 

16 



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THE WEAKER VESSEL 






iMped into his throat and hung there throbbing. And he 
turned on the water-tap and drank from his hollowed hand. 

He found her waiting his arrival that evening in a sort of 
timid eagerness. 

*• You have brought yourself, anyhow," she said, shaking 
hands with him ; '* and, oh. Boy, I am so pleased to see you ! 
I have been in unutterably low spirits all day, and sick and 
tired with myself— all alone, too ; I haven't set eyes on a 
soul. I was too depressed to go to see anybody, and I was 
so horrid that nobody came to see me. And besides yourself, 
have you brought anything ?" 

Harry took a very solid sheaf from his pocket. 

" I've brought that," he said. 

" Oh, you dear ! And is it— is it as it should be ? When 
did you do it ?" 

"From dinner time last night till rather after four this 
morning," he said. 

" Ah, what bliss ! 'Voren't you happy ? Let us have 
dinner at once. I thought we would dine quietly here, if you 
didn't mind, instead of ^oing out. I am careful of your 
reputation, you see. Louis Grey might see us, or some other 
kind friend, and tell Eleanor that as soon as she goes away, 
yoo seek consolation for her absence. You do, too, and I 
am going to give it vou. Just as you are goins to give it me 
for my terrible fit of blues, by reading over the most lovely 
bit of plav that was ever written. Dear me, what nonsense 
I talk I As a matter of fact, Louis is coming to dine with us." 

She looked up at him quickly, and saw his fallen face, and 
burst out laughing. 

"That was all I wanted to know," she said. "I only 
wanted to see if you minded, and quite clearly you did. As 
if I should ask Louis when I had the chance of an evening 
with you ! Do you still mistrust me ? Take me into dinner, 
and you will see there are only places for two, and he isn't 
one of them." 

Harry's equanimity at once returned to him. 

" I'm fond of Louis," he said, " and quite delighted he is 
not here. And how much nicer this is than dining at a 
restaurant !" 

" Eat your soup, and then see if you still think so," said 
she. " Boy, you have an extraordmaiy effect on me. In 
two minutes you have made life seem not only posr^ble, but 
deliciously pleasant. And I've done all the talking myself. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL f^ 

!hifr^£5:u^?."'*««^Weconve».tion. Itm«.tbeyo«^ 

wJtaa^^JL'^rmS^tX ''^ ''^^ '^^^^'y with 

Iha'rC^l,%Z,rd"'"TV°^;''-»»-^^^^ "And. oh. 
depressed on a wet KrHaviT''' "Pu*""^^ °^*» »^i«g 
for it. in the U Lrthe w^^^^wh^^'^J? *'^^*^'^ ^•"^^ 
the sun and the w^t S ?t^; iLl^K,'" '' i' T'>8' ^i^h 
to be hapDv Oh if mi,i i temble waste of t me not 

I count TminutetStedi?'n^".*'^*\y°'? «*«'* buy time! 
something in it'ttrs^end a^ UaiTte i' °^ '.^"^« 
anaemic dejection, is a dreadful fhLT* u ^"°®' '" '"O'e 

science. iJow on anotKiy I shflUon;? °?>,°"^'' ^^°; 
have let run awav f wiT-^ ■'^ • . ^^^S lor the hours I 

•bletopu??h3iterawavra nan^YP^; T «"8»^* ^ »>; 
one is h^y a.air LeTuT^S upTe'i^'a^to'^ar * ".^? 
' TZ«^ \^^ what I have w^U!'^ ^*'^ ^•'^^«^*' «« '»^** 

inat suits me. ' ho saiil «' t oi,„ii * ^ ,. . 
play with you until yZnend m« a'^^ ^^V^"* "^""^ *^« 
hesitated a moment-" I want to Z\h "l' , ^ .^*°* "-he 
some form during thTs wZk i * **?® '"'^"'^ °' '^ ^o^n in 
and thejpIanniSne Tm' L ^i *^ «^* *" *^« ''^^ng 

Shesmileciathim. 
, " Ah, you are a dear !" she saiH " t« k^ „ i 
P ay I wonder, do you like your wor^ bet er tZ *^ll?^^ 
else? I expect you do. PiobabTy vo^wmS h*7*^« 
if even Eleanor camo in an^q ;«* -^x^? would be funous 

at it. ProbaWy.TfToi feh th« r^l'^ ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ were 
leave anybody In tKorW to^Htt Zn" ^Oh"' ^ "^"^^ 
who make things, you are the lords oTthe w^rV V°P ? 

sjttr^^d^ranTt^^s 0^-^^^^^^^ 

anything you Udr^ Zn't vn?1 ^"^ '^^J^ «^™°^»>J« ^o' 
of us reaUy ?" ^^ * ^°" "^^^P^^® *he whole crowd 

thetr'^e" m7:^f ^ "^«"^*^° «^°°^ P--^ between them as 

thl'f^^Tf woTasTseiri "il^ 1" ^^ ^"«^- " ^^^ half 
other PerLraSy.'^^kreispred^^^^^^^^ 

There was an earnestness about him now thaJ r... 
takable. and in her secret heart hS "^0*^; TeSSS 



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began to fade into m sort of oontemptuoat pity. He had 
■poken no word of love to her yet, but the impulM and the 
desire were already felt by her through hii dumbneM. Nor 
was she cold of blood towards him ; whether she had a heart 

®u "/*?: i. ^•^ «?P^**'® ®' '®«"n8 attraction, and certainly 
■be felt it now. She leaned a little forward towards him. 
*u. And you really propose to go on thinking of me all 
thjs week, she said. " I am so sorry for you. You wiU 
get dreadfully bored with me. But if, as you say, that is 
part of the condition of your work, I regretfully consign you 
to the boredom of me. For I do want the play so much.^' 

They had finished dinner, and were lingering, as they had 
lingered before, elbow on table. Intentionally she ignored 
that which she correctly divined in him, wanting to see 
whether he would express it more directly. She did not have 
to wait for It. His face flushed suddenly. 

" And that's all you cnre for us !" hu said, " though you call 
us creators sitting among tlie stars. We may be poor devils, 
sitting in the nether pit, for all that you care ! All you want 
is just our work, and as I.)ng as you get that, you snap fingers 
at us. We may be bored, as you suggest, or get tipsy over 
it. or sweat heart's blood, it's all one to you. ' Three acts 
please; yes, that's all right,' you say. 'Thank vou very 
much, and go to hoU !'" j > j 

She had not meant to arouse quite that. Devilish in its 
essence, as her project had been for it sprang from jealousy 
at ^leanor s marriage, and had been redipped in green again 
bv her success, she had not consciously desired to do more 
than make things domestically disagreeable for Eleanor, by 
showing her her husband making a fool of himself with another 
woman. She had meant Harry to be attracted by her, not 
hesitating to blind him to the issue by talking of friendship 
and her own loneliness ; she had meant ii ! i, oven, to fall in love 
with her mildly, in a comfortable, controUable sort of way. 
JBut, though still he had spoken no word of love to her, and 
had but roundly abused her, she knew that this came from 
a greater depth, so to sp. vtk, than any she had contemplated 
angling in. She had but gone a-fishing in what she thoucht 
were shallow waters, and some denizen of deep places had taken 
her bait. And his vehement rudeness gave her a thrill of 
emotion which, for the first time, in her abominable dealings 
with him, was genuine and human. Laudable it was not, 
considermg the circumstances he was in, but it had about it 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 229 

d^rt^°* wJ^^ "^^ •! ">•' '^^ fint-lumd emotion 
iW^Jhtn h^,A ♦ ^®? '***• ■**" ^°"*** not have been doing 
nuJrS. I ^^^y ^ ***' °^ *»»' •nd Ws by giving it fttfi 

nature, made her stare at him a moment in ulence. as he sat 
hn.S ^K**^ '^^ handsome. Though she basked in this out- 
and hatf reluctantly her idea was to calm it. 

rf«n T k^y **.®*''" *^® **'**• " wl^at ^M your poor friend 
done to be spoken to like that ? I only askod yoVto try to 
put up with the boredom of having me pt^rpetually in your 

cJ^mI^'^1 ** '^^80 an endeavour as his weakness was 

«w5I ♦ u .. ,,?'.'^^'" '^^'^^^ •»« recovered himself cor the 

H« n^-k 5"k •**"'? '^'"''f.'^ ^^'^^ '* ''"'^ ''"* * moment's recovery. 
'I®, pushed his chair a little back. ^ 

y. .!?^' Ij^on't know, now you ask me." ho said. " When 

1 m writing I—I get worked up about things— I see every- 

Sn«'fi.^,^«^? with reahties. and-and one falls in love with 
min P W* *?"* ^'''■S*'*^ ^^^y ^"^ J"«t puppets. Does that 

•°^. setter. Will that do for an apology ?" 

She held out her hand to him with her friendliest smile. 
T h«^"l ^ 1- """f *. apologize." she said. " Somehow 
rnThn? I ^^^'""^C *"'*. ^ *"* «° '°"y- ^oy- yo« did give it 

fwT ' ^''11,°"®,'^'^^'**''"^ mistaken moment, that I-weU, 

chSd !"^" ^ *^ """^ y°" *®''''"'*- ^^** *" *^«"«* 

info^^ ^*? him, without credit to her, since she had not 

^itS !? 'u-,i"» u^° ^^*"^® ^« ^»» capable of taking. The 

absurd child brought him to the fact that he was not one. 

He was a man so he weakly told himself, and as a man he 

was a responsible being. The name that was meant to coax 

and caress, only repelled, and brought him in thought nearer 

to Eleanor again. The balance was weighted aImo?t evenly ; 

the weight ofa gram might iucline it to one side or the other. 

A mtle more, and passion would outweigh the other scale : 

hJtl i««8' and love would toss passion, tlxe unlawful, to the 

beam, buch were the usual alternatives, but she, coarse of 

S^H-^ ''r'^"^ '"^ perception, knew of no third attitude. 

which, mdeed. was more nearly his at this moment than either 



II 
t 'I 

it'- 



ll 



230 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



^sr 



^u^* it^Z ^°iJ^l*'?.''?.?"8 "^d *t« *^o seemed «aDy 

to mph^fhtS^* ^'^ *** ^"?°8 natures love is dominant, and 
BnJ f^fK "* «,<»ie woman in aU the world, or there is none 

t^o to I^'^'te*?"'" T7u '"'^y ^ *^«' and Sei^ we« 
luA" ^' JV* o^^e of the two caUed him an " absurd 

T^e tZht^'T-iw P^" ^^'^ ^*^ *^e other- 
he to^k^Ctn^^oSfalir' *" ^^""' '"" ^ ^"^' ""^ 

"That IS Just what I am," he said, " and I wiU trv nnt 
i^yhow 1 r J? "«^*'y ^^," "^^ But "there" thl'^pl^y 
wriousT; bn? vS^^^'^f, l°" "^^ "^« ^*- You don't take me 
SSn AnH I? "^^ ^'l^^ *° ^^'^^ «e^"«^y ^hat I have 

ooS vLt Lhi V /i? ' you-Just you. You told me you 

wJs voursdf' ^Inif* *^\^''^y P**^ y^'^ ^^^ *^y good^for 
wJ»*"n t ,^ C *°,°^ y^** ** your word." * 

He stiU held her hand, and looked from her eyes to it. 

a h,S^nf iL®' "^^^^ !i ^^^ ■" ^« «^<i- " I could crush it into 
w^shaS^'itk n""** ^'* ^*'^^. °^^^^ «*«^^«er than me^ I 
£ veA f rim« '^°;f^'^« ^g^iP i^ a minute, Ind we've got to 

reading to you. if we are going to get through any w^ 
You must help me, and suggest! and-and I wantto T^t i* 
all done m some form this ^ek." ^ ^®* ** 

befo^X^I^Xtr' ^'^ ^'^^'' ^"^* P"-^« ^ »^-<» 
Presently they were instaUed in her sitting-room and 

c^rtable while he read, and have the light conveStty 

"Now we must run no risks of being mterrupted » she said 
we haVeTv?,^^- *^««« »™^«enients^ " so w?^st se^S 
TdriX!!!^ *• Cigarettes, ah, they have not brought 

"Not for me, thanks," said he. 
ohe rangt 

Bo'v^aS fZn ^°'' T'.^^t^'^' ^°^' J"«* wait one moment, 
dis W „\^>" '*"*? ^^''- ^^' I am going to enjoy i^» 
His last night's work did not disappoint 1^ now that 

he re«l it again. He had told her that he hS S vin W 

« «!,« wi eveiy hne of her part with the same vividness 
•8 she had recognized her failure to feel the beaSy of «^hS 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 231 

wS^if^eT'S^H w'"'*^y*f *^*'°**^«' wasEIeanor, so this 
Kfi; fu ♦ *°,? between them sat the artist, this weak 
nJ^* 5^^' "^^^ ¥ °°« <»* Nature's ironies, had tCJiSs 

oS^m in ^:k * ""^y" 80 It appeared, when alcohol had 
put mm m an abnormal condition of brain power She S 
fong suspected that. This evening the Whlhkd let s^ 
when he had said that she did not^mindhS^gettkJf bored ?; 
tipsy over creation, had made it certam WhTSIn^ of 
^a^^mS °^^ hands with Eleanor; pity ^d the i^^et 
exi^tTt ?f FW?n* '"'? ^^"^ his wealkness were not non- 
existent. If Eleanor and she worked tocether over thin 
though Eleanor would never know she had In aUy there wS 

work mth Eleanor ; she had also to postpone, none knew how 
^ the completion of the wondeSul work S? S^l^n 
^«^for her. And she could accept neither of tCe cT 

As he read her admiration of him waxed like a brewing 
SlnH-?^''?"y, ^^ attracted her; she delighted S^ 
Wdship; she ahnost worshipped that warped^and briUi^ 

When he came to the end she rose. 
Htn Z^^u •" * ^o^der, a wonder !" she cried. " Oh, I should 
^xf wifV^^i ^^"^ to your desk, and let you write it S 

S^tHf* ' u , i^ y°" ^^^' O^ courre you mu^t fiSsh 
It this week I You are on fire with it. You have ff^t 
g«jned ;^ you Just have to write. Boy. you Jre ateoC? 

his^haSSs wZtJ^jS^^ ^^ ^^"^ *"«^^^ ^«'' -^ «^« -- 

beL'; tS^£^;}^ ^'- " ^"* I --t ^ow you 
She met his look, and her lips Just moved. 






II 



CHAPTER XIV 

^e\o''JS of ^r; .^"^^' *^°T. 1.°^ ^* Bracebridge lay to ' 
ine south of the terrace on which that channine red-brick 

endnfTl'*?^^' *^^ 5^ *^-*^"^« °^ this blaZg^ay in the 

W F? *°^ *«°^{f ^ "t"^'^ that\ve^ now and Ten cZe 

hTlSirsomew' ""'^'5 ^S^ *« *^ P^^«« where the bS? 
Rho h^A ^^ i®"^ seconds before, and hit the empty air 

Grev an5T'^Jr°' *?r °^^y *«" "^^-^t^^ before wTth Lm's 
h«r I„?„Y s^art London gown, insisted, without waiting for 

ElSZiT * • TP°^ ^*- ^* ^"^^^ « deal of supmS. 

montCf Z.'L^P'"^'^ *r!^.« ^P'"*«- She hadTS^^hree 
Sid b^m ""^fy hard.^«'"k' hut that was over, and her hohday 

h^ fcf ItTZ^^'T''''^^'' *^ ?^ .*« «he was concerned 
naa Deen of phenomenal success ; she had sprunc with onii 

G,^ h.S*? ST^T^' *^d there was no dCbt Is Lo^s 

f*rw?^^Tf P ^\ ^" '*f " the play had not taken the popular 
fancy It was to see her that the theatre had filled for ite 
Now fh« 1":.:^^' ^""^ ''' Wednesday and Satu^^y ^atSi^ 
S™ ^ ^^^^"^ ^^*^«^ ^*« over, and in two days she and 
Har^ would leave for a month's holiday in North Itafv 
Up till quite lately the summer here in Lrfand had be/ri 
Torih^ £*"^ and she longed with the call of hlrJtalian Wood 
for the heat and bnghtness of the South. They had taken 

E^Zh f ^T^^. ^" '^'^ Ligurian coast, foramonth From ^ 
Enriish family whose servants were accustomed to tCwa^ 
rII P^'l' ^*^ ^^ them preferred that to an hotel In 
September she would have to/be back in London agaSj* and 



irai^ 



I I 

H 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 23J 

nobody in the wide world ' '™™ ""^ """^ 

reputation ™^S;, .;" '^*'«>'! ^ her aloe-aowering 

£d be^nTduK?^*'^*^''^\^^^^ fi«d that HarS 

thatsS ^feiei^ te '^"^ of drinking, and yet frS 
this eSrZan. n?fJ tad sprung like flowers out of mud, 

but whin she c^'rUct t wat '"nisfTaS^he 1'°""''^' 

hideously wZringS^Ce;^^^ ^'*' ^^^P^' «^« ^^ 

of anycauseforanTitfwi«+ u T.^' *"® definite cessation 

confiaenceof lovelhelLhlliH^vf'''^^*''^'.'^*? *^« «Pl^°<«d 
Eleanor had h.fn^ beheved she could restore him to himself 

called^^The seven%at« Jp-^'J-P^^^^ ^**' ^^^^ Harry 
specimens of moTn^tS nwff '°''' .u'^^^" ^* contained 
te^mis-net. ShTwL the ^esrnS'h ""^ *^^ ^"PP°^ °* *»^« 
she loved dehcLTclothtrC 1 ^"^ """'^' '?®^^"««' *^o"gb 
respect, and s^tL^td Thet at iTw^^^^ 



;'Hi 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 

" Oh, Mr. Orey, my only hat I" she shrieked. " What i 
butcher you are ! And that dreadful volley of youn los 
us the game and the set as well, and perhaps I had bette 
chanse my dress before I have another one. Daddy, darling 
the Cnurch was militant, wasn't it ? And I want to come am 
dine with you to-morrow night, if Mrs. Wilkins will let me 
Come for a little stroll with me until tea is ready. I don' 
think you've heard any of my plans yet — and they are sucl 
nice ones." 

Eleanor soothed the outraged hat as well as she was able 
and took her father's arm. 

'* I couldn't come to stay with you, dear," she said, " bscaus* 
Mrs. Wilkins had asked us ages ago. and so it must wait til 
Harry and I come back from abroad. That'a the first thin( 
I had to tell you : secondly, we are going abroad on nex 
Wednesday as ever is. To Paraggi, too. Wasn't that when 
you went before you met my mother ?" 

" It was there I met her, Nellie," he said. " It is odd yoi 
should be going there." 

" But that wasn't where you used to tread the vintage wit! 
the other Italian boys ?" she asked. " No, I remember, thai 
was in the South. Oh, daddy, I wonder if any of mother') 
people are about there still. Perilli was her name, wasn't 
it ? I must ask. Do you remember we once planned to g( 
there together ? You couldn't come, could you ? You see 
it was aU settled in a hurry." 

" My dear, indeed I couldn't." 

He paused a moment, considering with himself. 

" Nellie, dear," he said at length. " I never told yot 
much about your mother. I have often meant to; but 
somehow, I have not. There were things that made it rathei 
hard for me to talk of her to you. But, since it is very likelj 
you may see relations of hers there, I had better tell yov 
something. You will find them very humble people." 

" Yes, dear ; I understood that," said she. 

Again he paused. 

" Well, then, my dear," he said, " I don't think you neec 
ask me to tell you anything more. I dare say there are somt 
of them there still. One of them, your uncle, that is, used to 
be a boatman at Porto-fino. One had a shop at Santa 
Maigherita." 

They had strolled to a high place in the garden, from whicb 
they looked down on the river- valley below. The Vicaragt 
and its garden was spread out maplike beneath ; the churcl 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 2M 

Xnt:S'i;re ^''^'" "^'^^ ^^ »«- ^«>- her father's 

foud as possible There is fhe^JS^^ i* ^^'^^ « Mobile.' as 
you anri have comJln^l^^^^^^''^?°^^^^''^^^ioh 
aU so knit int^ mvTeart I^fo;^^^!^^ Christmas. It is 
But there are so Ln^^'ronn^H - >°l* ^- "^^"^^ ^^^o"* i*- 
could put them in S>r S^-"* ^^'^^^^ '" '"y l»eart. You 
and the indu We* of lo ve ^^^^^^ ' T^* *he patience 

She tumedS f^ed ^r * tremendously Just no^.» 

Butiran\trSVT;n'rL\tt'' " 'f ? ^-'* *«" y-' 
of love. You can't lo^ nS ^n^ ^^^ed with the kindness 

never be harsh whirv^iSp^C'^^^^^ ^^^^^-^^ 

Iof^-fi^g?r^*ha'n*d^: ^^°^^' ^^' «-«^^- arm in her 

"ihn'7Z to .^V^tTd^'b^^'' ^^^'^ I a°^." «he said. 

and critical aS,u?S^;h^Bf,!r" "^'i'^V ^ *^ «°^»" 
I am not about Zy^^tn ^"il'^^^^o* about you, and 
anything about eit£L?Vi!«l Tf^'y*,,^ ^o^^^d accept 
power o1 undersZSLg others eilialTl *^ ^ °^f ^« ^^ 
I know I should have there n^ S .*^®, understan. - 

She paused. ° y°" ^®® ** » ' ?" 

"I want to know aU there is " shn si«#1 «« i 
I have a certain right. I alwava f«lf ?i, ' *"" «'^'^. "P' 
you didn't tell me Those A~Tt^^ * **^^^. "^"^ something 
is nothing, tell me ^^ j^fj^^ .^^^PP^d stitches. If there 
I^notf child.Zt"l-a^^^^^^^^ tell me also. 

?? ^S^,^7 ^ «he h^ P^ced heSelf . 
1 will tell you." he saiH " T *«ii • i 
very suddenl^ akd she «ith l^f 'Sr^''''^ "^^^ Jonr mother 
wards. Eleanor. You were ^^^ff ^^ Z^"^ T"^^ a^<>«'- 
veiyyounir She was T^f o ?? *^*®^*'^^- We were both 

oldYrJhan&ar^ is."" Shru* ed to ttr" ^"t^ ^- ^ ^»« "°* 
and about the fioSethatTh,x^? i?.u°'°*^^'^^ *he kitchen 

Eleanor's ev«««n!i!u I u ^ **^®" ^^^^^ one summer." 

tremWrandd'eS^'^^^ ^"^'^ ^^^ *«*»5 her mouth 

^''en'sClatJ;^'"^^--^*^^^- 

"Oh, daddy," she said. "J knew nothing could hurt 



t'l.i 






236 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



which oonoemed you and her. Ought I to have been shocked 
I suppose so. But I can't help it. Oh, was there ever sue 
a lovely conversation ! That is Just what I wai^ted-HBom 
thing like that, to teach me." 

She shook her head at him. 

" What a naughtv boy !" she said. " But perhaps it wi 
that which has made you so wise to understand. 1 know 
should come to you if I wanted someone to understand m 
Oh, don't be fnghtened ! I am not going to do anythiz 
puzzling. Bless you, dear." 

" But it was very wrong, Nellie," he said. " You mustn 
lose siffht of that." 

" I don't lose sight of it ... I know it. But it is no oi 
going on looking at that always." 

" Yes, you are quite right there, Nellie," he said. " An 
there is a great difference between being penitent and doii 
nothing except thinking about your sin for the rest of your Ufe. 

" Yes, that would be dull," said Eleanor with conviction. 

A heavy duty of forgiveness devolved upon Eleanor lat< 
in the evening, for when she went up to dress, she found h« 
maid mourning over the ruins of her hat, which now appeare 
to be the only one, in a sense she had not contemplate( 
Temporary mental aberration alone could be alleged, and tt 
literal fact was she had not got another that could be cor 
sidered respectable for a large garden-party that Mrs. Wilkii 
was giving in her honour the next day. But the situatio 
was not irremediable, for her motor in which she had drive 
down that afternoon was here, and she could easily send h( 
feather-headed incompetent to go and get a hat or tw< 
Then another idea struck her. Harry was not leaving tow 
till half -past ten that night ; why should not the car go u 
after dirmer, do its errand at the flat, and bring him dowr 
A further development followed. It was a delicious night 
why should not she herself go up, thus insuring against risl 
of more aberrations, and return with him ? The box-seat c 
the car would be taken up with luggage, and it really was to 
much to expect Harry to drive down with a stony and offende 
maid. But she herself would tremendously enjoy the driv 
with him ; driving on a hot night was delicious. They ofte 
went for a turn after the theatre. It would, too, save hii 
travelling in one of the least animated trains on the moa 
dilatory line in England. 

She gave orders to this effect, rubbing in, not wholl; 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



237 



ingenuously, the fact that she had to spend aU her time in 
going backwards and forwards to London, because hats were 
forgotten by other people, and, refusing aU escort, set out 
soon after dinner on her drive. She had intended to send a 
telegram to Harry, saying that she was coming up, and would 
take him down with her, but she found the office already 
closed and thus would make an unexpected appearance in 
Mount Street . But she had set oflf in plenty of time to catch 
mm there before he need start for his train. 

The coolness, and dusk, and solitude of her drive were aU 
to her mmd, for they suppressed surface perception, and sent 
her thoughts inwards. She wanted so much more patience 
in her deahngs with Harry. Patience had to be infinite to 
be patience at all, and it was only through love that that could 
be attained. Once, about a month ago, she had come home 
after the theatre, and found him hopelessly fuddled, and had 
lost temper, patience, all the qualities that she needed, and 
had told him she did not wish to see him again till he was 
sober. She had frightened him ; she saw that, but at the 
moment she was too sore and disappointed to care, and ho 
takmg her at her word, had stumbled out of the flat, and cone 
downstairs. Then all her temper and impatience had oozed 
out of her, and she had sat there, trembling and sick at heart 
till he should come back. What if some accident happened 
to him, if he never came back ? She had telephoned to his 
club, to Louis Grey, to half a dozen houses he might con- 
ceivably have gone to, but in vain, and she had sat alone with 
bjer fears and bitter self-reproach for a couple of hours or more 
Whatever Harry did, she must always be ready for him never 
angiy, for anger could never successfully accomplish what 
love was too impatient to attempt. It tms just when he 
Jailed, above all, that she must not fail him. To whom was 
he to come but to her ? And she had dismissed him with 
contempt and anger. Shame burned her to recall it 

An ominous explosion and the stoppage of the car roused 
her to external impressions again. As ill-luck willed it, thev 
earned no extra wheel, and a quarter of an hour must be spent 
m tedious repair She found, too, that it was later than she 
had expected; there was but a small chance that she would 
catch Harry at the flat They were, however, already close 
to London, the lights of which turned the blue velvet" of the 
midsummer sky to dusky red, and it v. as worth while eoine 
on, ,f only for the hat. If the journey had not been so nearly 
done, she would have abandoned it, for the drive back with 



238 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



I «:; 



SSZil^^* ^' motive in going. But there wm stil 
poMibUity of oatcEma him. if the stieete were not badlvw 

iwJl ». ^^*L*J"^^.^" "<> longer poseible. a£d it " 
•Irewiy half-p»gt ten when they tuSie<finto Mount Str^ 

sC^i? i^'^^'u-K" i"*'?' °^ •»» *^o" before ~ 

n«L?^ ^M ht. That was so characteristic of Harrv • 
never remembered to turn lights out when he leftT?ci>i 
wid he, with equal con/iction, told her that tS wJTh 
d^S ° V ^' ^" ^**« «^« ^»^*«d were in her h^rt^m tl 

the bght Just msife. On the bed was lling anoWSSa 
topaz-colourorpink, trimmed with feathe^* ItwM^othw 

aIJTS^ ^ "^"^^ «*^" ^o' » "»o«»ent. feelinTcurio^ 

heJ^bi^tW unsensitive. as if this was not Zl^^^ 

eSted onwl'^^ ""^.^ "^^'^ spectator at some^nTSu 

cSS^d Jhi^^ir""*- other miagination. Then she came Z 

crossed the haU agam. and went straight into Harrv's rooa 

The two were sitting side by side on the sofa ; heTIand l! 

m his and her head was thrown back, laughing at somSthS 

he had just said And e veiything sUd bacS fhe mZ^ 

reality agam. These things wer? happening here i^Ho^ 

and to tSem three of the^. But fi^^dfd^^ot^ii sh 

^^n^^'^^^'^lJ^ ^^ happened twice beforS wh^ S 

herif&a^ifhfSre.'* "" ^^ ^^^ ^"^^^^^ ^ 

There was dead silence for a moment ; then she heard he 

Shr^Tr\'P'*^°«,^'"*« ^'^i^tly and sensibly to Han? 
fmnntf /°* P^^osely ignore Marian ; she had merSy^ 
mipulse to speak to or recognize her. mereiy n< 

" I d^v'^^ttl^T^l'^'^^ *^«« I ™*«d." «lie said 
4&sCld«SJ^^^^^^^^ ^- »-^- y- ^^> 

I din^eS^^rel^lSr^^^' '" ^^ ^^"^- " ^« ^^ -n*^ 
or effort^^""""' ^""^^'^^ disregarded her. but without purpose 

fiv:^:;?^^^^^^^^^^^^^ "I «^aU not take 

spS: qiSte":^Sy' ^ ^^^^ *'^* ^« *"--* *« Marian, and 

"You left your cloak in mv room " aho raiH «« tt»^ . 

her her cloak. Feteh it from my ^^dro^ij?' ^' ^^^ 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 139 

word the two left thTmn^T* t : ^™®, without another 

farasXtoe^ BhehldfoJth^^^ "T* *«^^ •*««»•• ^ 
deair^namdy.t^ttS^^^^ 

isi^s^inrtssvif ^hMl"''^^^^^^^^^^ 

•ndyetahylv ' ^ *'"*'^ **" ^«^°«' «Peaking eagerly 

" 1 missed the train, Nellie " he tnirl «• t ♦ i u ^ 
you. Did you not Mt J « t* ^l , ^ telegmphed to 
iurian told me w " * ^* ''•' *^^ ^^* *«^ I ** I««t. 

wm^^^'ab^T^^*"}'^^"^- I*»chedtooleadenly. There 
;; Or IS there another ?» he asked. 

iiJ^i; ^?' . * *"" "■«" "ra* no other and — ^ i^ 
to oir.^/?^^""« ^» «»." he «id. •• I'dSL-t „ean 

the g^tiV'fc^"'' O" ""V aaid she.tk he pushed 

oui talk before we fan» Krt ^^ ^''^^'*' *« ""st finish 
me. . Now, ;^u Z ^ZI^^Z^T- "° ""^ '^'^ ^ 

.twS. '" ' "'°"'"" •*"■" ''^"! *hen he l«,ked 
" Yes," he said. 
She oonid say Uttle of the neit question. 



i /■Jj 



il 



240 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



"AndrilieMked. 
" Ym." he Mdd again. 
BK L?'?*" ®i **^ questioning wm beginning to teU on he 
o tL ft>riou8ly to check the trembling of h 

*• Since Easter or thereabouts ?" she asked. 
Since then." 

For one moment— a moment in which but a parody of ht 
best self wpeared— Eleanor was fiUed with a contemptuoi 
anger for him. smoe he had done exactly what she longed fc 
him to do, and told her the truth. A real man would ha^ 
ued and tned to screen the woman he loved. It should hav 
made no difference to him whether she herself believed hii 

Old not, that their fnendship was a thing for the sunliaht 
He had chosen between his wife and his mistress ; he woul 
have been more manly if he had taken the burden of his choici 
which to her was Ues. So strong was this for the moment 
tnat she let her tongue use it. 

"And you can't even shield her f" she said. 
She knew its un worthiness the moment she had spokei 
and materialized it. She despaired at herself and her miser 
able smalhiess of nature. He had given her truth, and she- 
she who loved him, and had prayed for truth, flung it bacl 
at him, tauntmg him with not having lied. 
I don't mean that," she said. 
Then the horrible inconsequence of human nature reasserteci 
Itself, and she saw that a picture on the wall behind him was 
not straight. It seemed to matter, and she moved round 
the table to where he was standing, to rectify it. Thinga 
ought not to be crooked : some phrase of the sort sang in her 
bram. In silence she put it straight, and turning, she was 

close to him. His face despaired ; he was gross and weak 

And yet he was Hany, the man she had loved. And there 
was something of the original about him still, in this whipped 
caricature. Rather duUy she wondered what it was that stiU 
reminded her of him. 

" There is Just one thing," he said, " which I don't believe 
you understand at all. It is Just this : I could have lied to 
you. as TOu thought I should, and as the world would think 
1^ I didn t love you ; but I love you. I don't care what I'vt 
done. I love you. 

One step of her's brought them quite together. 
Oh, Harry," she said. 



ve 



THE WEAKER VESSEL jui 

"It to true." 

JSll^Tr^Tl^tl^^'''-^^'^^-^. The. 
_; I mm thought of that," ghe aaid. 

8h. noticed ttS»Th.twM n^^^ ^ ■"?" *•"" ' •■»•" 

ashamed. ^ ^' ^"P«ra^>voly. but like a thing 

it "JZ^^f\t^''^ " ^^^'^'^'^ i"''»»fc to you." he said • " hufc 
is lust so^much of tfe b^t «r 1 r**"'^ ^^l ^^"^ ' »>«* there 

wifhto h« th^^t-'ra rt'nS' "? '"* «? ■" l^' "<« 
as if her soul mn.t h.^^kl^** , "" *'"*° "»' '' «»med 

longed forSto^Jt if h.^\^^ ''?''°« •'™<'- Her muI 
.»«her uneJuteu.*ra>^-L,XTd>°g J^trshlS^ 

do'whLTVou'^p.^t Yo^*t°''°T'l''p'?y<>«- iwiu 

minute, if you iSh'lwm^.* ^ f° '"°'' 'o '>« "<>». this 

&th^arB£?i"-«.-eSt 

He came a step nearer her 

16 



14 



S42 



THE WEAKER VB8SBL 



It makes me Tilt 



«lst 



would be Mder for me not to teU yoa. 
**»f«U?» know ; but I miut teU you?' 

ElMuor lud gone perfectly white. 

h. hLf!Sr 5"**^?* .***.^," •^•^' •»<> *»»• foul poison whid 
"X* Wd° "• "» *^ "^d withered and rS^ 

There was silence a moment. 

" That is over, then," said Eleanor. 

♦K^jiT*^!' Vti *°«®5 •" ^o^ *« be Teiy fatiiniina but 
the restnunt of them, the stru^le not to let Sem eS»?h 
mind IS one that is mfiniter?more taxing to theTe^ou^ 
strength and as she said. "That is over. tSen,"EleiSJJsi^ 
down, with coUapse ahnost, on the sofa. She Sd notTiJt to 

^ «t^j:ST5' ^' r" *^ «^^« welcome to tCm^TwhS 
nad returned to her : she was too Unui *^ k- • . 

anything else than h^r o ve^ebSig^SiJ^ "wTn? 

that ghastly moment when she had folJdXSiheMn^^ 

^ey went do^tairs to the car tfiTwis waitSg frthJSi 
Hany, also, had scarcely spoken a word since E Wor had S 
It was over but here he made one of those dehcatThS 
pomts which were so charactoristic of hi^. ^d alnSst 
womanly m their perception. aimost 

"Would you prefer tliat I go outside, Nellie V he asked 
an i?tSi^ ^ lum. appreciating it. ;«id yet wSndS'at 
an attention so mfinitesimal. Certainly it showed hTwas 
thinking of her, but in how superficial a manned It wJI^ 
if you wiped some specks of dust from the fwe oto^t^ 

No, dear, come m," she said. " But I think we Von't 

talk more Just now, Hany. I am so tired" ""^^^^O'^* 

For a long way they drove in silence thiough the alternate 

glare and darlmess of the gaslit streets. ciowdS^^ th^ 

joyous traffic from the emptied music-halls ^ ^es of 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



*»im with wpwichM Jhinh Sf •^°il' •"**' «nleMshe Milled 
WM able to SSS^ XIaS nnSf- »•?*»« deaiwd. nor. Sd 

She kid her hand on his *« ^^ in aU its strength. 

i. ne?:r'^tS: 'itwS'^nX'ei^ r^.: ''^-^ Ooa. it 
but we won't lo^k bJi ^« ^^^"^ '^1; ®'*^e'- o' us at fiArt 
•gain. Thew KoJhLVSrCediS ^^ "^'* ^"^*« '^»>' 
want it to be remedi™Don?orl i!' ^°^®*' ^® ^^ longer 




she would not have chosen tLfhL !? m ** ^** necessaiy ; 
'• And if I can. 4^^^?%^^^^^^^^^ 

from upset and misebr. not be^^eZ h^^^*""^ P®^^*?*- 

2^tched consequences of S sin ttfo^ ^' ^''*"*® ^^ t^e 

the suffering it 2ad causS W which inX'"'* °^ ^"^J*' 

so immenseTy less thanX fStl^hlt wh.* if 7®^' l»»ttered 

wrong. There were lessonJ^nr? i • .^® ^'^ ^^ne was 

be learned from suSnr?ttau^hrtL'?»,Pt°*T '^** ^^^^^ 

laws was foUowed by uni loasant^^^^^^^ 

physical pain it could be Ked tW?>?T'^f •' ^"'' ^ ^«'°» 

o bodily health resuItedtXl^,Vne^%^«^ 

him to see things from a hiah«r «+„ "'"^^ss- But she w; "wi 

rttle time, and would havA »»-^I^ i5 • ' °' course, in a 
P^cipled. j^ore a™ri .g™- "t'^^,'^ "> "» ™y mora high* 

wJfi'if p^tto hto'o^'y •*?"'.»• Sko did »«» 

f.r-«™th,E:to'^x.ss£i"crcj'i 



244 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



I 



i! i 



tender and unjudicial an attitude when her father had tolc 
her of her mother and himself. That had been wrong, too, anc 
when things were wrong, it seemed to her that there were nc 
httle differentiations to be made between one and another. 
In themselves they must be condemned, but in the very act 
of condemning them the sinner ought to^find something 
bracing and stirring. That in practical ways her father had 

given evidence of in his marriage with the girl, and somehow 
leanor felt that by process of soul-alchemy his sin— and 
agam she thought to herself, " the darlings !"— had been trans- 
formed and woven into the wise tenderness of character that 
was his. It was that alchemy she coveted the secret of for 
Harry. Unhappiness and consciousness of failure were just 
so much waste, unless from them there sprang a Httle grit, 
a little of the common straight-backed uprightness which is 
the foundation and establishment of character. But, assuredly, 
if she was able to help him in that regard, it would be neither 
by preachments nor reproaches. She could only make mire 
and clay about her shuflSing footsteps by such means ; his 
feet had to be set on the road before he could begin to move. 
And if his sorrow and misery (which for the moment she 
behoved were real enough) were but to plunge him in a sticky 
sort of hopelessness about himself, she would sooner that he 
had not been sorry at all. For a regret that gives birth only 
to pessimism and feeble despair about oneseK, was a thing 
for which there is no use in this world, or, as far as she could 
tell, in the next. Regret, in order to be fruitful, had to be 
optimistic in its offspring. It was right and proper for him 
to label himself a miserable sinner only if the very act of 
labelling encouraged him to determine that the label should 
become a libel. Breezy optimism on her part, if it was neces- 
sary to touch the subject again, had to be her spirit ; breezy 
oblivion must be the motto for her general ordering of her- 
self, if it was not. So much for herself, in so far as she could 
help him. 

There was a second person concerned besides Harry, and 
that was Marian. But Eleanor was no missionary, and, 
frankly, the thought of Marian brought into her'mind just 
one desire — to slap Marian in the face, and that would have 
given her the profoundest satisfaction. Womanlike as well 
as womanly, she told herself, with perfect justice in this case, 
that the whole wretched affair was Marian's fault. She was 
incomparably the stronger of the two, and she had used her 
•trength to those ends, stufling packets of it in through the 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 245 

El^n;^s"'C!rte'^|^;^^^^^^^^ 

doubt she ought to have dJsi«TfA%^^ ** ^*"*^- ^" 

sheh^d trhaVe^tlasrnn'^^TS'™,"^--?^"*"' ^'^d ^«^ 
with disgust. aSsLh^l^Ln^t" ^^-^^ ^'^ ^^'^ °»'««I«d 
show nSiy oX the lo ve T^S, *^^t?"«"'* *** ^«"«^^' ^^^ 
the unspoken inmfs/atfw ,^"° ^*"y' °o* *<> gi^e him 
fail, on W part trfu?fiwl ''^^?°'^ °.^ ^°^« ^°»W be to 
She did not receive Wri h.i •''°°*i?^* '^'^ ^^ undertaken, 
length and Sprove Ss "om?«''"*«K*° ^°^^ ^^ ** «"»'« 
because she wKLwife ^^"^ "^^^^^^ *^°» »>»ck 

their reality, but thev so i^ «1^^?'?T® ** ^*' »°d knew 
really reacW her it 'V^^^^^^ ^"'^ ^** *"*^«^ '«i«l they 

must^^givrHfr^'all wele^e "^and ^ ^y' "^ 

truth of it. But thA w?^?'* u^ ** ?"^® «he knew the 

hopeful outlook sh^lor^pdfn - 'v.*'''* y^* «^® '^^ssed the 
yow own estimation sS^d to h«r ^.'"^ ^"^'T^- ^^ «'"^ ^^ 
remain sunk sujorested th??««„ * "^^^^ salutary thing ; to 

But she wl3d tL „r^^^^^^ 

climate and iT^hata^SrhetJn *^' '°°^S^*^ ^^*»«« «^ 
istic though the v^^w St seem r™^^^^ ™*^"»I- 

people so much oJo? themXU^'^ "^f °^*^S *^*t t««k 
To cross the sea to tmvp??h^ l*%* ^'^^^'^^ «"«h as this, 
familiar food wm L«^ f . through a foreign land where un- 

longer said '« ^s ^l^'^d * C'T^^'^ ^""^' *"^ ^^^^ ^^ 
encouraged the idea of S.nf- , ^^n /ou meant them, aU 
change woulXIrthetor^T^^^ Thephydcal 

change, too. She wantp??^„l^ -^^^ ?u ®' , ^^^ needed the 
Street, of her ^Zomwh^JH "k ?/^^ ?*^"«^t of Mourn 
of Ha^'s room wheToTh!^^^ had found the alien cloak, 
been s^d. and to take away'^fZlt' 0"^?^*^°! *^^ ^^^ 

essential to li^. him ^rcLiri^: ::^',f^\;:^^^^^ 



ml 



246 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



h 1 



; I 



! I 



I i K 



put oflf dirty clothes, and be habited freshly. In their absen 

the laundress of association would be at work with the di 

carded garments ; when they returned they would find the 

with the fragrance of freshness on them again. But so 

seemed to her, they must make the change together! SI 

had rejected the more obvious expedient of their both takii 

separate ways for a time until they had refocussed themselve 

JTor theu: adjustment concerned them both. It was not j 

cordial strangers that they were to start a fresh life, but i 

lovers agam. It was no use thinking separately, and aft« 

a httle lapse of time comparing notes. The contented, ecstat 

solitude d deux was what must be recaptured, and the pursu 

of It, m her view, must be put m hand without delay. If h 

wanted her, and since she wanted him, she wanted him mot 

m the time that was difficult to him. 

They arrived at Santa Margherita after it was dark, and 
dnve of a couple of miles lay between them and Paraggi 
On one side the sea bordered the road ; so stiU was it that onT 
whispers, scarcely audible, were sibilant on its bright lips an< 
a shower of reflected stars dwelt, unwavering on its bosom 
On the landward side the hill climbed steeply, set in series o 
dim terraces, thickly sown with trees, but here a multitude o 
other stars hovered and flickered with less tranquillity for i1 
was ahght with myriad fireflies, a spangled curtain of points oi 
flame, and the cicala of the South ground out the harsh mono- 
tone that IS unlovely to northern ears. But, though Eleanoi 
was a stranger as yet to their grating chirrup, there seemed 
to her to be something lovely and familiar in the note, even 
as the new wonder of the fireflies seemed homelike to her 
Something m her blood beat to it all, and the dusty duskv 
nbbon of road that lay in front of them seemed mnatelv 
natural; so, too, did the beUed horses with pheasant-taU 
feathers cockaded between their ears. At the edge of the 
whispenng sea were occasional fisher-boys, carrying flares of 
oiled tow speanng occasional prey ; farther out black blots 
of boats, lantern m prow, were busy with off-shore netting 
and down a steep cobbled path to the right a wayf -er came 

u"^ T^^ J° *^? ^^^^' ^^°S^^8 ^*^ open throat. She felt 
she had left one home but to find another. It seemed natural 
that the driver should sit sideways on his box, and make 
pleasant and usuaUy uninteUirible remarks to them. 

Then came a sharp angle in the road, and a gateway frowned 
on their left, while a promontory swam seawards. 



THE WEAKER TESSEL U7 

tao^'Sn tS, '^!^" "• ""^ "•• -^ '•» « a -he h«l 

vet know n^Zi 1 ^ *?? ' *• "^ »•"' seen yet, and 
other side bvX fiSf ^*'^"*T'^«/??'* ^*?^' »^d on th^ 
slept the UlSomahlJ W. A^^*° * P°"^*« ^'^^d which 

a«»in For Wa.U t u °^ouded her, it broke into sunhsht 

Sappi'ss^^eer ' '^' "'^^ ^"^* '^^ ^ «™^*^« 

fra^'ncraTsh^'fiuT^^^^^ ^^ °^^« "^ ^n'^i<«We 
to W as bi^and Lfr^hT, fV^- ^''^ i"^^' ^*^ i*' She had 
unconsciousV fm™7 That^' ^^^ ^ "^thinking, and as 
and she was Wfer^ nl^ ofTth^.n T^'t ^^ '^^^^ 
out-of-door cure for hS ^ ,wM ? ^^- ?^^ T^*«* *« 

she was alread v i« «^ i 7 ®" ^^® needed that with which 

only the pre^ribed remedv°tC°°^t°' ■'"^''? " « *«» 
b, Sealed Lt '^it'Z^,^!'t.,TX'jL%^l^ 



. )(J 



E-=re« 



I i 



! 



248 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



J I! 



V^ 



^^rm^, "°*'"""« '' *^««»«»-e8 to aid the cure find 

of isolating heredfTdli!^ ^mewhat daring experimei 
this simplf ^Z^L^- ^o^^««elf 8he entered int 
inhenWce ^d W „,«^^* ?i ^^ '^^ «ea as into a 
along ^hh«r (^ fu'^ T* °/ .^^^"« ««e°»ed to carry hii 
profo^uJd sideld onil£.ltlhr ^^ ^"' '"^'^^^ habitati^. th 
the rocH and thev^t f li*'""^ -^"^ "P.*« *^« «<^g« « 
affair of k short fnH SI? • T"^« ** *^^ ^at^^g. n, 

succeedVbAhudSw'^S'Sl^^*'^ ^"^ °^"y ^^t«" 
circulation but lona^?i °^/^°*>«« *« restore impoverishe( 
blue ci5^s?;i withitSvl r;^"|f « o^^t into the warn 

and. when the fiercenesTo? fh^rr^iJ^ u.}^ ""^^^ ^'^sta, 
they would L 3f.!J ? r midday heat began to abate 
ben^tT^he Sok^^nZnlr\ 'J* W^^^^ed hillsides, 
heart of the Sllf^^iS^iann/.^i ^ ''f 1^V"^««' ^^^^ *he 
the fireflies hTbeSi^Tl^vt;ll^"f ^*^ «,**^«^«^' *^d 
sides. And yet tt^? were 3 W «f?i,'**'''^®' H°°« *^« ^U" 
with the other thmf^rh^T T, °^ t*^®™ completely at ease 

to put it^lf Z're 8t^!ri? ^^^ ^"° ^^^ 
dete^munXto m^ke ~^iLu^/^^«?^«-, ^^^.^^^ they fad 
found that ZTT^^tee^J^^^\^^^''''''l.^^^^ ^^^' they 
fully handled «« ft ^^yfiad topics which had to be care- 

pathetic eXrts to W^ j't'^J™* "'o™ »' " » -" P«oeded bj 

to^tl^l'.JSS.'XXtr';^' ?"?."?"• «"« »"" -P 
glirteniSg fmm the!™ ™ """"« '" *"' '"'tl^g-drese, afl 

luir.%J™ 7r wo"uK, '•'^ "S'^J'," *" "•« t<"-'h-bn.,h 
«o that I M JldTrt r^rf y»« >nin<i if 1 cut mine quite short, 

covering it up tittwaC^??! ""^ ' '»«'cd.''inste«l c£ 



I I 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



249 



He laughed. 

^-^""-nFl'lj^^ further. There 

So a conversationKZed nlan! "^ ^ ^^^ »*^''* Louis. 
" Harry we ahtll kT^ plane was necessaiy. 

be rich. There's my sX^ aSd vS ^i^ '* '" immense fun to 
-I suppose you ^UmnZch^J^^'' ^^T "^ ^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^ 

This was sLhtrw^e fI? ""^l^,* 'r*' ^^'^'t yo" ?" 
plane a^. «"^'y^o"e. Eleanor shifted on to the incUned 

th^^alJVour'tiher ^o4f .nd' ^^" ""*? ^^^ P^^^' -^ 
in the shower of gold llL^lf ^°" '^""P'^. "* like Danae 
or pe Japs longer &1tdoeL!:^:7;U^^^^ «haU we say. 

woldd^S^doraU^td'E^Ie^^ °!,^ ^'^^^'"-^ P^- This 

" Darling, we are nnJtof !• ""' determined to end it. 
tiy to ayofd lubWs th^K"^ • f ^" ^^^ ^"^^^^ly. " You 
those that might SsLSsyS^^^Vf '''"'' "»«: I try to avoid 
to go delicately Se 11^ %n JV ^T^^^e^^e is, we have 
before the Lord^ fSr beZ^^o slllv Y ,^«^«<i ^ in pieces 
let us say whatever Ss'nS;. t/' '^*"«^ *" *^** ' 
and if I find I've nut 3- L!S • ' ^^^^ ^ ^^ used to do, 
j"«t laugh, and sar'ffit Z'^y^"^'^*' «? *« «Peak, I shall 

subject then weTpeak of LoL Kit °^"' . ^" ^^*»«« *^« 
your play for Marian L u ^^^y' ^^ ^ben we speak of 

Wau?e of the wayl°;:; ^TIT -^'^t- "{ ^^"^ othe?plays 
them. And thlt% why ^e are^^i" ;!r^'^^y«" ^^ to w/te 
to be doing We nin nff tn fi? t,?**rt'ng fresh as we ought 

appear. V^eare beiSgVLlehi^^^"'^ ^^""*^ *^ «°°» «« ^C 
I'm not much better^mysfw b,^?; ^*''^"«- ^^"^ particularly. 
He had slinned n^ Ik i V ^ *™ '^t^®'^ better." "^ 

WhenhemovS^hfsarthtrilrahnesS' ^^ t>athin.-dress. 
neck above, and bare an^T.1^^ V ^^^^^^^^P^^nt'Sbowing 
ten days of'lazfest e^po^re^'^^l^r.'^ ^"^ffdibly with thif 
was of normal whiteness ^'f,„?.S''-T*'^!i *^« t^o tbe skin 
often her head had K pilfowi?'' ^'^ * ^^^'^^P ^*^«^ «« 



^^^""''^st^^at 



^^- -^Bset^. 



I 1 



260 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



T 1. J^A* * ^^*® "^ '*' *^o «"d ; " »nd, somehow, Ha 
1 like the tan better. It looks open air, and sunny, 

^'JS^v **' **^^' »nd— »n<i "o attractive. You've I 
ooddJmg your mind aU these days, or I have been codd 
it, and It ought to come out into the air. We're wrappin 
up, and saymg that it must take care of itself. Wefirci 
we make it take care of itself in another sense ?" 
He nodded at her, comprehending. 
"I had better teU you, then," he said. "I have he 
from her more than once. Twice, I think. My God, I c« 
be honest, even now. It isn't twice ; it's three times, 
thought you must have seen the letters arrive. Certai 
twice they brought the whole post to you, and you sorted 
and gave me my share. DidnM; you guess that, anyhow ? 
Eleanor's queer crooked smile, that was so kind and 
guileless, leaped to its place. 

"Oh, I think one never guesses whom other people's lett 

are from, she said. " Your eye may tell you, but you hj 

got to tell your eye that it knows nothing about it. 2 

Tto'"' , °o""e, I never thought about that. But if you s 

Wasn 1 1 sure you had heard from her ?' why, of course I w 

She must have written. A woman would write. But what f 

says can only concern me, if you choose to tell me about it 

8^ gave a little sigh, wistful in spite of herself. 

Harry, dear, do understand this," she said, " because 

nas to be the basis of understanding. I don't want to kn 

anythmg she has said or says to you, until you want to tel 

me. Then—then my mouth waters for it. But until th( 

1 Msure you, it does not concern me two straws." 

He drew up his feet, and sat with arms clasped round 1 

bare knees. Down his calvos there was but soft downy ha 

adolescent, young, and tl^n soft smoothness of body seem 

to ht the immaturity of his frail, brilliant mind. She h 

never realized before how young he was, how defenceless. 

But I want to tell you," he said. " It's poisoning me 

Her smiJe was not so certain now. It wavered and tri( 

to be brave. 

•| I want to hear, then," she said. 

"She has written twice— damn it all, I try to tell yo 
and I keep smoothing it over— she has written three time 
She knows I am out here with you " 

." S°^ ^^ ^^® ^**^ **^** •" asked Eleanor quickly. 

She may have seen it in some silly paper " 

He laughed, not quite naturally. 



If I ! 



ow, Harry. 
mnny, and 
u've been 
n coddling 
i'Fapping it 
^ell, can't 



ave heard 

3d, I can't 

times. I 

Certainly 

sorted it, 

yhow ?'• 

id and so 

le's letters 
you have 
t it. No, 
f you say, 
irse I was. 
t what she 
kbout it." 

because it 
b to know 
t to tell it 
ntil then, 

round his 

wny hair, 

y seemed 

She had 



THE WEAKER VESSEL »! 

"Note mJ^:C^^^ i'^-« -r^^r he said. 

3he^Mt:rn thfe^^^^^^ -^ waiting. 
iro^X^^tnS^, i^^ J,hoal of s^V-sided fish leaped 
PwhablysometLigbrg^ray?"^^"^ disappeared agS! 
were tragedies goiSjon L ?Wh no?^^^*^ ? P"""^*' ^^re 

"^^ sh:r'^«?^{I°^« - ^"'"^ "*"'"• 

in a voice tTat w^^iT^^^^^ *?^.^^d her so." said he. 
I -jn about;heSrt.n^eTdd:d *"' '^*"'"*- " ' '^^^^ 

It wa^\ttns?4tTre "stXSTr «*^« * "*«« «»^-- 
of^he^nd.andasr.fL^tTh\^^^^^^ 

and tot 8hrme^°^./^^r'*V^^'r '^^ "^^ impatiently 
is exactly whatTmean SfZ^^ ?f^^ ^l^"'« °*^«' whict 
there wi somethSfwr^? burho'" '"".M^l^ * ^ ^^^ 
you did anythingT^dSstl^ri ^hZ T^i? l*'*^® K^^^^sed 
told me now, and^tTai !hat ^^f' ^^^^^^ ^^^ ^«^« 
"&,Tr«^^-*"*^"t^^^^^^ Now. what has 

^^^Z^^::^; "Theyareinmycoat." 

hisdo§beV"^At::!^fheTf,>^^ ^-<1 deposited 

the envelopes from^S«ir' w**^^ {^ayed-edged as r^ards 

L^TheSf^^ ^^^^^^^ ''"' "'' "^^ '• 

And then Eleanor lost her temper. 

w wSTtThe :^;Ti"i?iruiri^ ^"p^- ^ --* *<> 

carry them in your coat"' ^* «"^'' ' ^nd you 

into the*°s^.'*^^^ *^^- «-d -<'«>-. and flung the fragn^ente 

thri^pp^trnf oteeVav?"S,^"T^^^^ «^« ^'^^d' '^ 
mind. «*^ou Sake a pit of vou,?«,fT^^^^ ^^^F^y "P in her 

and I really behaA^l^e iTngef o ve'rT "iS^^^^^ 

Sj^soTu^'h^-r-s^^^^^^ 

o^. Oh, don't contraa^n.r,"&SS\^a^^rhS.1^^^^^ 






252 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



you thoMht you laid that I had aUowed you to come b 

™®' oC* " ^ wanted to see her letters ! I know what 

aavs. She says I am fighting her. So I am. She saj 

take you out of reach o£ temptation ! She says— I sho 

thmk that was in the third lettei^that I am welcome to 

idavmgs f That is exactly a harlot's point of view. J 

to crown aU, she probably says that she is sure you are bo 

nere. That is quite horribly true. I think you are. ] 

If there IS one ounce of fight left in me, and there are pow 

ot It. I assure you, you are going to stop here till I ohooa 

till I choose— to come back to England. If you are to beco 

a decent man, it will be because I have made you one. Perh> 

you wUl always be a weak kind of jelly-fish, a thing that floi 

UKe that one there, and Just stings as it goes by. with< 

meamng— oh without meaning ! Harry, il I was as w« 

as you, and I thank God I am not, I should send you ho: 

to-moiTOw with my blessing for you, and a small bra 

her .]!f^^~"*'*® ^P"*®* '"^^^es, or something of that sort, : 

Eleanor had not finished. Something of the wild resti' 

Italian peasant blood had been awakened. She was cc 

foatna, too. She could scold and rate with the best of the 

She knew all the time that there was another and perha 

a wiser bemg within her, but it could not come into%cti( 

until this reasonable and enraged virago had said her say. 

« Vn„ ?!?? Vr'i ^""^ understood nothing. Harry," she sd 

«« !i r, I *®?^ y°" ^^^ ™e^ly because I was fond 

ff ' jTt T u ^ ,*^® y"^^^ *™8 ^"nd me. U that was a 

shouldn t I have disowned you ? Goodness, it would ha 

been easy enough ! You were on fire for her • on that evenii 

When I found you together, you would have welcomed i 

IJon t contradict ; you would have. If I hadn't been wi 

and quiet, as I was, I should have been here alone, as yc 

X!7i/if u""' ?' perhaps, as you kindly suggested, Lou 

would have been here with me. Certainly, if I Eid only care 

for you hke that he would have been, for, barring the fact < 

vourself—ond much comfort I have from thatr-I would man 

^? *<^:i?o"^w. Do you suppose I don't know that he is i 

love with me? Of course he is, you siUy creature ! It wa 

only when you said to me that your mistress had suggeste 

to you vile thmgs about me that I was cut to the ihearl 

ci,T ?A^ apparently conceive anybody not being vile. Yoi 

iT^vVi * "^ t S^?P *^® ^*°* *^** there are some people in th 

woHd to whom honour, and chastity, and faitMulaess, anc 



oome baok 
IT what she 
3he says I 
—I should 
>me to her 
lew. And 
are bored 
are. But 
kre pounds 
[ ohoose — 
bo become 
Perhaps 
hat floats, 
', without 
i as weak 
yon home 
ill brace- 
i sort, for 

d restive, 
was con- 
) of them. 

perhaps 
to action 
rsay. 
she suid. 
s fond of 
t was all, 
uld have 
b evening 
omed it. 
leen wise 
), as you 
id, Louis 
ily cared 
le fact of 
Id many 
I he is in 

It was 
iggested 
e neart. 
e. You 
le in the 
3SS, and 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



253 

do the 



purity mean something. To some people a promise to 
best that is m them means something. To others, it appears. 
It means nothmg. It is to help you to keep your promise 
that I brought you here. I am sony if you are bored; and if 
you tad me boring, but vou have got to make the best of it. 
It isn t for myself that I keep you.'^ 

*i.^W ^*1 **®®^ ^^^ "^^^^ ^e was when he handed her 
the letters that now bobbed up and down in fragments on 
tfte npples below the rocks. He had never seen her angry 
Defore, and, though what she said made him feel both hurt and 
ashamed, the fact that she said it like that gave her a new 
and splendid attraction. The strength of nature which she 
revealed had been unknown to him before; he had thought 
tliat people who were as good and sweet as she must necessarily 
nave the defects of their quaUties in a certain lack of human 
fire. But she was as human as anybody could wish in her 
anger, and it excited and vivified his weakness. 

" But you are glorious !" he said. 

She still raged. 

" I am not glorious at all," she said. " But I happen to 
be a woman, which I think you have never really known. 
iJut 1 doubt if you are a man ; you don't seem Uke one. I 
tnmk you are just a doll, my poor Harry !" 

Her contempt filled him with a tremendous physical 
excitement. ^ v*^"* 

T " ^j^°"' u™ ^ ^" ^® ^*^^- " You know better than that. 
1 could-crush you with loving you !" 

ibid then suddenly all her anger went out like a blown 
candle m the wind, and the eternal need of being loved filled 
her through and through. But in the strength and purity 
of that, there was for the moment hardly anything physical. 
me longed for him, but not his mere masculine streneth. 
Ihere was some virility of soul which mattered so much more 

u\t so* up and came close to him. 

, No, Harry, not like that," she said. " I— I am not your 
mistress. We must be more at one. Don't you feel the 
difference ? I want you— oh, I ache with wantmg ! But I 
must have all of you." * 

She longed for a certain insistence on his part that would 
oonvmce her that she had aU of him. But it did not come 
Her own plam-speaking had made him for the moment honest 
to the core. He knew what she meant, and blustered no 
assertion. 

" I am always waiting for you, Harry," she added. 



• » 

••I 

II 



•'■1 
• ;i 

i» 



CHAPTER XV 



l^BRB are stonns in the physical world which but clear tl 
air and restore serenity to the weather ; others seem only 
upset and unsettle it, so that a period of uncertainty and fi 
fulness results. And this is true also of the internal weath 
of the mind, and it is to be feared that the disturbance late 
recorded belonged to the less beneficial cIms of storm. Tha 
at any rate, was Harry's Judgment on it, when, three or fot 
evening after this, he was rowins himself home along tl 
ooast-hne outside Porto-fino. He had sailed out alon 
since Eleanor was occupied after lunch, and now the wit 
had completely dropped, and he had to di^ at the sea for evei 
yard of nis homeward Journey. Above hmi, on the landwai 
side, rose the sheer brown rocks, at whose base a long oH 
swell coming in from the open sea, broke into white hckii 
Ups of spray, and boomed in the hollows beneath then 
Ijxe heat reverberated from them, and from the dazzle of su 
on the surrounding waters. He was tired and hot, an 
resented all things — his laborious spading of the sea, the fa( 
that he was alone and the reason for it, the whole colour an 
temper of his life. 

There was no doubt also that, apart from heat, fatigu( 
and windlessness, he had certain grounds for iU-tempe: 
though those grounds were really quite capable of bearing 
fruit of kindly tenderness and legitimate amusement. A le^ 
days ago, as he and Eleanor were returning from their evenin, 
walk up among the hills, they had met on the cobbled mul( 
path a young woman coming up from Porto-fino. She wa 
a contadina clearly, a red kercnief bound over her cornel 
hair, barefooted, with the coarsened hands of rough manut 
work. But her face was arresting, and, as they passed, he ha* 
said to Eleanor : 

" By Jove, what a pretty girl !" 

Eleanor had seen her, too, and had stopped. 

" Oh, Harry !" she said. " It must be one of them — of m^ 
mother's people, I mean. She is the image of the miniatur 
of |ny mother that daddy has." 

S54 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



285 



He thought for * moment. 

" I remember/' he Mid. " down at Bracebridge. Why do 
you mind, NeUie ! I shouldn't mind haying rach a pnttv 
cousin, if she is a cousin." f""""/ 

For Eleanor's eyes had suddenly got dim. 

i« T ? ' ^ u**'* y?" ■®® ^^* * ^^^ I ^v« *>^n '" "he said. 

1 bave been here all these days, and not asked a sincla 
question about them." ^*^ 

" But what are you going to do f " asked Hany, as she 
turned back and went up the path after the girl. 
Only just ask her." she said. " Wait for me." 

Bhe caught the girl up, and he b-w question and answer 
passmij between them. Then Eleanor took the girl's hands 
and kissed her. " 

!! 5*?^' ^S*'' °°™® ^^ '" 8^® called down the path. 
This w Maria PerUli," she said to him. "Her father i. 
my mother s brother. Ecco, il mio sposo. Maria," she added, 
mtroducmg him. 

Nothing would satisfy Eleanor, but that they must instantly 
p back with Maria to their house and see the rest of the 
family, and this embarrassing visit was made. The father 
was stiU out at work, but his anxious early-old wife was there, 
who, as soon as she had grasped the fact that this illustrious 
stranger who lived in the Castello at Paraggi was a cousin 
was mstantly eloquent over the hardness of the times and the 
iliness of the cow. There were two quite young children also, 
who held out jtrubb^ hands, and demanded »o/rfi; but Eleanor's 
warmth of clanship never wavered. She kissed the dirty 
httle faces, and found soldi for their hands, which their mother 
mstantly confiscated, and insisted that the whole family 
should come and have lunch with her at the CasteUo. They 
had come to-day, aU but the two small children, who had 
been left at home, merely locked into the house, and the 
meal had been of matchless ill-ease. They were all endi- 
manchiea ajid on bad terms with their uncomfortable clothes • 
the cow had died, and Aunt Perilli, bedewing the maccaroni 
with dropping tears, gave the history of its demise in voluble 
Italian, unmteiligible except to the butler, who had to act 
as interpreter. The topic was clearly polemical, for Uncle 
Penlh had loud altercation with his wife, over the question 
of how the cow could have been saved, and Giovanni's intei^ 
pretation was brief and contemptuous. 
"They are quarrelling, signora, as the contadini will" 
Then he spoke sharply to Uncle Perilli, and the raiaed 



■\l\ 



2M 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



Toioe WM lowered. " I tell him to beh*Te himaelf, tignon 
he said, '* wh«i he oomee oat to dinner with exoellenoy." 
The direful meal proceeded, Oiovumi keepina hit eye < 



Uncle PeriUi, And cleariy fldiving only Juit m muoli wine m 

thouffht good for him. whUe Eleuior strove by meana of bra< 

and slightly operatic Italian to infuse some spirit of genialii 



into the intercourse. But though she was not particular 
successful, her failure appeared not to weigh on her mind : 
the slightest ; these were relations, her cousin and her unci 
and they were haloed by that secret glow which, all her lif 
had burned in her love for her mother, and her father's stmni 
youthful romance. Then, when they had anished eatin 
and sat out on the loggia towards the sea with their coffee, an( 
Giovanni's policeman- like presence being removed, the alte 
cation about the cow broke out afresh. 

Harry, in kindlier mood, might have been amused wit 
these really dreadful people, or touched by Eleanor's deliciot 
cordiality to them, because of their relationship. Clear! 
this was an instinct to her, and in no way a duty. But U 
himself he only saw a pair of boorish peasants, with a prett^ 
but intolerably stupid, daughter. However, as far as coul 
be judged, they had no intention of ever going away, an 
Uncle Perilli, meantime, was rapidly drainmg the house < 
its cigarettes, which he smoked continuously, lighting on 
from the other. Then, after an hour or two of this, he hear 
Eleanor ask them if they would have tea, and the offer wa 
immediately accepted. 

" Will vou tell Giovanni to bring tea, dear ?" she said t 
him. " And, oh, Harry, do go out if you feel inclined ; 
can manage quite well alone. Say good-bye to them and go. 

The sound of the foreign tongue roused Uncle Perilli to 
great effort of memory. 

" I spik EngUs," he said. 

Eleanor turned to him with much geniality. 

"Ebene! Molto bene !" she said. 

" Si ; I spik EngUs," said Uncle Perilli again, for this wa 
the limit of his accomplishment. 

As he rowed laboriously along in the blinding glare, Harr 
thought of the afternoon with amazing rancour. It wa 
quite likely that those intolerable people would be encourage* 
by Eleanor to stop to dinner as well, in which case he though 
he would really go and dine at some hotel in Porto-finc 
Family affection was no doubt an excellent thing, but wh« 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 257 

iSS«^.S« !?• ^^i'^^y}^ di«5Uig« the obUgation of 
ntet^sUp. II would hftyo been oMier to the girer, and 
E k "^ '^"°" •ooept»ble to the recipient. . . . Then ftt 
ilffcftilTIk u^? the Promontoiy of Porto-fino. where the 

iSl^r •i'***'*?.?""*.*^* "^^^7 •»«». •!«» tlwre WM calm 
w^ln pkoe of that long oily iweU. and he pn. .'omi hto 

OMi, and sat in the bottom of the boat to rert amfc I n : uMeM. 
It was not only thii intolerable incursion of ^oa ::t f^ . 

t^'ST^ ^^ ^'T**^ **^- He was bored wifi, . \, pK-e 
andtheoutdoorsimpUcityof thelifethatsofue.i^ I .iiu 

S5l?LTi!'i?*®"^~tl'?"«^ tW« was the firF.t tu-n- ho -eft?: M 
tWj-with her simpUcity. He knew weU h- r p.vat horned - 
ness. her nobility of soul, her love for him. 1 ut aii i >m 1 al'ci 

!!/?"° V' ?»'?"^*« *">• '''"»«' only » i V. dav bof le, her 
sudden burst of anger had excited and charm od umu ,ut. it 
senned that she did not care for him to be hke thaf. Qh. 
had repeUed him ; had said she was not his miaf.. ., Ho 
tned to teU himself that he did not understand ^vi .t she 
did want, but he knew, and knew that he knew. His love 
for her had coarsened in fibre, for it partook of the quaUty of 
hu nature, which had coarsened too. How that had happened 
he knew perfectly well. *^*^ 

He could not work. This was another disheartenins cir- 
cumstance, and what made that the more ominous was that 
once or twice, unlmown to her and unsuspected by her, he 
had poweUoi hjmself with the spur to which hitherto his brain 
had never failed to answer, ite had_got whisky from Santa 
Marghenta, and, tellinff her that the Imcontiollable had runa 
the beU, had sat up, soakinff himself into activity. The ireneral 
LnM of his play were already planned, and he had anticipated 
no difficulty m the execution of it, but no creativeness of brain 
had resultoi. He but drank himself into a sense of weU- 
oeuu;, and from that into mere stupor. His brain was stimu- 
lated, but not mto creation ; for a period it glowed with vivid- 
ness of vision, but the visions were all concerned, not with 
what he wanted to produce, but with the weeks that had beaun 
for him last Easter, and finished for him at the end of jSly. 
inere had been two factors that stimulated him then Here 
one was missing. He longed for the other. 

Yet it had been something to be able to feel keenly again, 
to be able with vividness to recall a passion e\^en when it had 
been renounced, and as he sat here this afternoon, coolinir 
aown after his labours in the sun, he began to wonder whether 

17 




4'' 



268 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



there wm time to row Mross to Santa Bfaigherita befo 
dinner. If only a breeze would spring up, that would nukl 
all things easy, but he still was reluctant to make lurth 

J>hyBicareffort to obtain what something within him, howey< 
eeoly, renounced. If a breeze sprans up — there was nothii 
less hkely— he would ao ; such was nis decision. If not, 1 
would be very firm with himself. 

Abeady he was playine with the thought, allowing it i 

roam about his mind, weakening his own power of resistanc 

Then came a further ingenuity, a reason, apart from this, i 

going to Santa Maigherita. For Louis Grey, who had bee 

in Venice, was arriving this evening to spend a few days wit 

them. It would be a pleasant attention, one, too, that woul 

charm Eleanor and give evidence of his cordiiJity, if he wei 

thero, in order to meet him, and take him back by sea. He wt 

not arriving till seven, when it would be cooler, and even if : 

was necessary to row all the way home, there would be nothin 

penal in it. Besides, there was no whisky in the house, a 

oversight in hospitality. He could bring it back quite opexily 

And then sucn little power of resistance as was now lei 

in him snapped, for not fifty yards from him thero came roun 

4ihe comer of the point a ripple on the top of the swell, makin, 

the water look dark and shadowed. In two minutes his sai 

was up, and he rowed out to it. If the drink did not stimu 

late him to creativeness of brain, it would make vivid to hin 

again certain memories. . . . 

The breeze favoured his course, and it was but necessar 
to make a couple of tacks in order to roach Santa Margherita 
He had a field-glass on board, and, passing not a couple o 
hundred yards from the Castello, he could with ease set 
Eleanor's visitors still sitting in the loggia. But the though 
of them gave him now no sense of annoyance, he but admirec 
and appreciated Eleanor's endless patience. Yet it was hardly 
patience ; there was too much of cenial welcome in it. Thai 
was so characteristic of her ; she found something to interest 
her in the most boorish and languid of bores. She was al 
sweetness and goodness, he felt himself not the least worthj 
of her, but with the sense of unworthiness there came not th( 
least resolve and scaroely desire to make himself less abject 
She was made like that. He was made differently, and 
character was the one inalterable thing in a man's personaUty. 
That, the typical consolation of the feeble, was already his 
solace. He told himself he could not be different, because 
he was not different. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 259 

roU of the ni.Tc W * 5^2;^^?*"^? ^^"^ dumbeiouf 
of the sweU, imd bSS ?tS b^*^^* " it crossed a wave 
it did into the UnT^^ th^n^f VST'^i? °* °°^*«°* " 
» «ood friend of hL who inoSin^"^- .^®, ^"^ ^ meet 
wife. So much Efek^or hS IS k^' ''"."* i«^« ^*^ ^ 
The fact did not T^Z shikil^"^;?'?"^ *°^d *^- 
shocked him BirM\i„^ • ' ** ^^'^'^ ^ »b8«id if it 

tarfaSSH?^^^^^^ 

oflFe^ liTS Ihe f^fof Lufc^ *?^ *t** *" insult was 
did not resent it Ele^or hS ZJS^ *^ ^A*"'' *°^ y«* *^« 
luMi said that Lou^ woSd b« a^J^ T^u *^® °°*^°"- She 
for himself, wi" kv behLd^JJ.^ *^^ ^1!'^; * «o^P«»ion 
was thinking wickedly ^^JS3o?,ti; ^^^ »^« ^«^ t^he 

and you should have sfien W^Wo / ^ ^^^^^ peasant, 
of thi aftemoon-thef a^ved^t hfS'^^^^^ ^ the middle 
them if they would'&:Tme tea H^a^^rirV '"^^ 
Sony for you. but what could I ^ ? Th7cow» ' Oh '^ "^ 

hJMZ^,^'2^^^<^^ spend the'S.y^th „, 
TOice. "^ ''''"y' "" » studiousiy impartial 

look funny." ^ was so sorry for you. But you did 

?W«A^- .T^««^»«» little vinegar in it. 
well, there is no occasion for us to dehght in each other'. 



*il 



*l 



260 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



reUtioM,;; he said. " I don't inflict mine on you HI we 
you Nellie. I should send them five pounds L 'a new ^o 
Or do new cows cost more than that ? Send them enoui 
for a second-hand cow, slightly damased " ' 

" Oh. I did that to^y* gid she 

It waa not long after dinner that Hany left the other U 

brfore had he felt his weakness so rampant ; it had become < 

J^^"!?^»!l^"5"?«^^; H^^olongS longed for sSZ 

to 0pur his bfau to mtellectual activity, usiSg an evil^ 

for what was alter all a fine end : the evU meJSs W^ 

but to «ve him an evil mood. He wanted to mX^S 

to lu^mself the fascination of the woman who, even at th 

distance, exercised so powerful a spell over him. But he ha 

h?.i!»Sf?JS?i ^«'^*«"uptions, and he put conspicuous o 

ihL^fi w^V* of Nocem water, while heW in hiS oupboan 

the other bottle, the contents of which he sparingly cfiluted 

Then he m«ie.a moderate disorder of papers oS h^i^SX 

It an air of mdustiy. and sat down at it opposite the odS 

'^i'^. The breeze had died away agai^^fbut the X 

swell which betokened some storm out tolea had increwSj^ 

volume, and broke in thunderous tumult on t^Sb^w 

A moon rode high m a serene heaven ; looking at the skv above 

you would have said that the whole earfch^t bS^betow 

the great forces were active and awake. It wm Uke thlf 

i!!:^JS *^ '^'^"^ ^"""^.^ *ff«« «o* only phyriSl . h 
h^lf was surge-swept. Louis. too-Louis was^iAlhe Jl 
of the force ; onTy Eleanor sat aloft., like the moon, serene InS 

Sfff^*;;?^- ^ ''^^^^r'^ .^"^^' ^« *°»d himself, mS^*b. 
different from a man's; it was something protect^ and 
harboured in a tideless sea. No ebb and low of the wl^r 
^ SudlnW^iT^^'' S? *^^" "^^ °^»de it fret to foTl^ 
fn^^^K ?^^ A ^^^ ""P ^^ P®^ ' ^* ^»« °o stress of creative 
force that made him want to write. He wanted only to wcorf 
this simile of the unquiet sea and the serene moon K 
tame p^haps when his withered brain put out sh^te agato rt 
might be useful to have it, so vivid to him at this inSm^nt 
wa« his alcohohzed impression of it. Then, even bSow he 
put pen to paper he saw how fitly it was addr^^^by hkJ 
to Manan, how fitly, too, it came into the second act of X 
plav he was supposed to be working at. The man pleaded 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 

•bonf. "HoSTtho SS„J^:fc ^mjone surely;^ 

" Jw^ ^ W °i ^'^ ^ ^^y «^^^' she gave up her 

he wcopmed the obUgation. wScr^rtS ^«m L*^°"«^ 
nized also the bonrf fKk* kIxj au ?*"*? them, he recog- 

youtoBeeit.''^ShewoSdTdl'LS"'"^^^- ' ""^*^ 

exti^h^^iSd a'^n ^? °L* bird's ^^ng. his exaltation was 
mS!? not wh^if ^? °^.,"**®'^ blackness descended on him 
S^ m^^lf^SLlr^^^*?^^ the reaction ofS 
«d whl::L Sre\eart%tei:?^.*^^^^^^ and loving 



!!■ 



II 



«i THB WSAKBR VESSEL 

^enitade of aD Ver hewi, and he kMl not the wffl to olum tha 
pecfeot ffift. E. didn't want it enongh. lliat wai part a 

Then oame a donbt ; waa he hie xaal eeU when he was lik 
thus, or when he was sober ? When sober he knew that h 
was Eleanor's, that he was devoted to his own leffeneration 
Bat what if his real self was that which he used to unloose 
so that he coold write, by alcohol, and which now he hai 
ouoosed so that he could tliink with vividness abont Marian 
That seemed so possible ; he might so easUy be one of thoa 
onderyitafased persons who had to be strong up to the leve 
of theur real personaUty by stimulants. God made all sorti 
of people ; cnpples and crHina were bom into the world, anc 
none blamed them, only pitied them for their deformities anc 
hmitations. He perhi^ was mentaUy crippled, but wit! 
annk he could straighten himself up, and achieve and feel 
Surely that was better than being a mere vegetable, a coii 
that but grazed and was milk-barren. Whatever the cost 
was, he had to feel, he had to convince himself of his owi 
vitahty. Tb.rire was Justification for his drinking ; he wa( 
bound to drink. In his fuddled state he was surest he wa« 
thmkmg very logicaUy and convincingly. 

He heard steps on the stair, and voices, and Eleanor's 
iMigh. Louis' room was on the landing outside; his and 
Eleanor's opened from this sitting-room where he wrote, and 
she would have to pass through it on her way to bed. But 
his table was at the far end of it by the window ; in all proba- 
bility she would go through the room, seeing he was at work, 
without a word to him, and as she entered he put his left 
elbow upon the table, shielding his face from her, and picldng 
up hu pen, made random dots and dashes on the paperTso 
that he ought appear to be writing. But this movement of 
hw arm knocked over the empty glass which stood by him, 
which broke into fragments on the floor. 

" Oh, clumsy !" she said. " How's the work, dear ?" 
He made some commonplace reply, telling himself that his 
voice was in control, but something in it arrested her attention, 
and she came past the door into the bedroom along to where 
he sat. He felt a sudden wild spasm of anger at her, anger so 
deeply felt that it was hate. If she discovered his condition, 
he thought he would be unable to bear whatever followed on 
her part, whether it was reproach, or love, or pity, without 
losmg control over himself, and saying . . . there was nothing 



VESSEL 



26S 



he would Btiek at. He did not look up, and she, her feu a 
Itttie alert, oaiaeap bahiad him, aadaaw hi* paper half covered 
with meaningbfls, ainawlixig aoribblea. CSoae by his hand lay 
Ae one speech he had written. 

" And did the Uncontrollable shut n, so that you had to 
make wiude-wagdes to encourage it?" she asked, sitting 
down. 'Npo read me what you've written, Harry." 

Again his anger at this interruption and certain detection 
flared up into hatred of her, and the desire to hurt her was 
uncontrollable. 

" Yes, I'll read it to you," he said. 

As he read the poor bombastic stuff, the essential and 
nenonal truth which it contained blazed over higher in his 
Drain. 

" And I wrote this at the top," he said when he had finished. 
" This is part of my new play ; I wanted you to see it." 

There was no need for any explanation ; she knew as well 
as he did to whom it was addressed ; for the rest the condition 
he was in was as evident. There was but one more insult he 
could throw in her face, and he knew it. 

" So while Louis has been makins love to you downstairs," 
he said, " I've been making love to Marian up here." 

Eleanor gave one little quick-drawn gasp. Then she spoke 
quite calmly, with quiet authority. 

" I take no account of what you say to me, Harry," she 
said, " because you are not yourself. For the same reason I 
take no account of what you have written there. Tear it up." 

•' Dashed if I do," said he. " It's going to be sent to 
Engl a n d by the post to-morrow morning." 

Sue got up from her chair, and took it from his desk. 

" Don't dare to tear it," he said. " I'U teach you better if 
you do." 

She went white to the lips, with an anger infinitely stronger 
than his. 

" I was going to let you destroy it," she said, " to save your 
dignity. But as you have spoken to me like that, I shall do 
it myself." 

She tore it across and across, throwing the pieces in his face, 
and with a furious oath he pushed back his chair and caught 
her by the arms. 

" Do you want Mr. Grey to hear you ?" she said, speaking 
very low. " He will if you don't take care. Perhaps you 
think I shall call him to help me. Upon my word, you deserve 
that I should, and point you out to mm as a drunken, faithless 



k 






1!^ 



264 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



bnite. Hany, if I had one gimin of few of you, I shoald oaU 
•tonce. But I hftve none. If you poshed me over the edge 
of the bftlcony I shouldn't be afraid of you. There are two 
reasons— one that even now I love you, the other that I 
despise and pity you. Let go of me at once. Quick I" 

Probably she was physically fully as strong as he. but not 
one fibre of muscle did she use, but stood absolutely limp and 
miresistmg of body. But her wiU was as tense as his was 
wack, and she fought him with no other weapon. Presently 
"® <"«PP«d his hold of her, but still stood glowering in front 

" Sit down," she said, pointing to the chair, and he obeyed. 
She stood over him, looking like some wonderful statue of 
foroe. 

" Now f" she said. " Where is the rest of the stufE vou 
have been drinking ?" ' 

He pointed to the cupboard, without notion why he obeyed 
her. She went to it, and took out the half-empty bottle. 
I suppose you bought it in Santa Maigherita this evening," 

She went out on to the balcony with it, and flung it out- 
wards into the darkness. It broke on the rocks fifty feet 
below. Then she came back, and sat down on a chair near 
him. 

" Harry, don't break my heart," she said, and burst into a 
passion of sobbing. 

His stMism of hate had passed ; he was unable to withhold 
a maumm, stupified admiration for her utter fearlessness of 
hum. He had known himself how dangerous he had felt, 
when she tore his wretched speech in fragments, how short a 
way below the surface lay violence and mere brutaUty. Had 
she been ever so little afraid of him, he would probably have 
struck her ; it was the completeness of her contemptuous 
confidence that he dared not which was the cause of his not 
daimg. Beaten though he was, apparently without effort 
on her part, he could not help applauding so hollow a victory 
oyer so paltiy an antagonist as himself. And now she had 

Even way utterly, longing for the comfort that only he, who 
Id insulted and outraged her, could give him. 
But for a little while all that was weak and evil in him 
was strong. For the last two hours he had been soaking 
nis soul m the thought of the woman who had done so much 
to rum It, just as he had soaked himself in that poison on 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



26S 



whioh his bndn throve and expanded. He tried to steel 
oimielf aaainst the abandoned appeal of her bowed head and 
conyulied shoulden. Bat either he had not the eneigy to 
embrace evil with a whole heart, or it was that his heart was 
not yet wholly surrendered to it. Bat he did not so to her 
yet. * 

" I can't bear year ciying," he said, thinking chiefly of the 
discomfort it brought him. " Do stop." 

lliere was a long pause. The huge soft surf beat on the 
rocks below ; the sobbing beat on his heart. Then he came 

.!\^«. ' "»<1 **"d » trembling uncertain hand on her head. 
Nellie, don't give me up," he said. 

It might be a drowning cry, but it was still his cry, not 
yet qmte sunk. She would have come from the poles to it, 
or from Heaven. It would have sounded in her ears louder 
than the quiring of the seraphim ; the deeper the heU from 
wluch that appeal came, the swifter would have been her 
succour. And she raised that sweet face, all distorted with 
abandoned hopeless ciying, to him. 

"God bless you for wanting me, Harry !" she said. 

She dried her eyes, and the sobs began to subside. 
We must try again, dear," she said. " And— and not be 
*^^'k*^' ^"* ** ^ ^^ '*''® **^^"^ o' thinking any more 

Then she set her teeth a moment. 

" Can you get to bed aU right, Harry ?" she asked. " I 
wUI nelp you if you cannot." 

The existence of the intimacy between Hany and Marian 
Anstruther had, as is usual in such cases, been known to half 
the world all the summer, and the world, with its cynical 
common sense, had put in this instance the correct interpreta- 
tion on it. Louis Grey was among these, and his knowledge 
of the actress led his Judgment to coincide with that verdict. 
Humour also of Harry's habitual intemperance was commonly 
roread along that wireless mechanism which makes network in 
the hfe of cities, and disseminates falsehood so much more 
frequently than it divulges truth, but gives to both the same 
wealth of detail. It was consequently with a very keen and 
entirely laudable desire to observe for himself that he came 
to them at Paraggi, for his love for Eleanor was of a nature 
that was worthy to be called by that name. It did not 
seek Its own," in fact, and it envied not, and he therefore, 
from whom it sprang, placed above all other desires in his 



ii\\ 



m 



*1 



i 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 

mfad the ded» for hw happliiMs. He bdieyed. inrtruote 
byibMt mvattamu intoHion th»t is olwnoterJrtic of Ion 
•nd lo Mldoin em, thftt she knew of his devotion to hei 
bat, even if so. he souoely bUmed himself for haring betm7« 
tt, since, if she knew, she entirely tmsted him, •ndlet no fee 
of wiy mdisoietoon on his put interfere with the perfeo 

S!S!rS*? ??**•". T*~S°"?*- It WM impossible ijso t 
doubt that she loved her husband, and thus his eaoemess t 
disbeheve on penonal evidence any of these stones abou 
ttany was part of his desire for her happiness. The tempta 
tion to wish otherwise-to wish, that is, that they were al 
true, and that some crisis of discovery would separate husbani 
and wife— often assaUed him. but his love for Eleanor wai 
impregnable to it, and the assault ineffectual. The thouirhi 
<a a possible gain to himself could not stand in the presmoi 

2 ^^ i^^^ fe' **'u ^. ^'^^^ 8^<>^«^' o' sometime? ached 
«t the thought of what might have been, but that might-have 
been could not be desired by him if for its attainment somm 
jnd *w>uble mtMt come to her. Besides, he was Hany'i 
mend, and his friendship was every whit as sterling in ito kmd 
as his love, ttid that made it impossible for hirnnot to want 
to be persuaded of the untruths that attributed to Harrv a 
degraded and sensual nature. Also his love for her shone on 
her husband; he whom she loved stood higher than and 
beyond the ordmanr friendship of man to mtm. He wished 
uariy weU, smce he was hers, with something of the same 
passionateness as he desiied her happiness. But for all these 
'^^.°»^'^^^ with great intensity to know how things 
were with them ; that desire, which was second only tothe 
denre to see her, had made him propose his visit. 

life led hmi ahnost to beheve that all the tongues of rumour 
bed, so ttuouctant to aU appearance was Eleanor's love for 
the sea and the sun. It did not occur to him to think it 
poswble that she had anything to scratoh and to bite in the 
^I^^i ^^''..^T' Bat-Wife behind her enjoyment. She 
bathed, he with her, and lay out in the sun, and discussed 
TOmewhat discursively, for the time of work was not vet, the 
Shakespearian revivals of the autumn. There was sailing 
also, where with enthusiasm that was only equaUed bvhar 
Ignorance m naval matters she took the hehn, and directed 
random and misbegotten operations. She would put about, 
and warn her passengers of the inboard swing of the boom, 
and the boom never swung but they were left with sails spilt 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



S67 



of wind on an inhumonJotis m*. Or without w«ming frun 
her the Mune boom would execute « twift decapitating 
manoMiTre amid passionate expostulations from her oiew. 
Or tying on the beach, she would tell a tale of a shark that had 
been caught close to the shore only a week ago, in whose 
incredible belly had been found the hind-Ies of a horse, a 
woman's clothing, a complete porpoise, and a tunny-fish, 
and next moment, declaring that the heat on the beach was 
unbearable, she would swim a quarter of a mile out to sea, 
heedless of the possible existence of other romantic monsters. 
From her at any rate Louis drew no sign of any domestic 
scratchinfln, and it wanned his heart to doubt their existence. 
Nor did Bany fail to strengthen such doubt. Less vividly 
than she, he appeared to acquiesce with great cheerfulness 
in the world as it was, and m no way to fall short of the 
demeanour of a happy husband. His work, it is true, seemed 
to worry him a little, but Louis, a worker himself, knew that 
all achievement, if it was worth anything, came into the world 
with Eve's curse on it. 

Then came a break in the perfect August weather, and a 
couple of days of sultry and cloud-ridden skies, in place of the 
glittering serenity of blue, ushered in a streaming tempest of 
sirocco, hot and rain-ridden. For the Jubilant and azuie seas 
there was given a phalanx of monstrous billows, inky-grey, 
with bridles and harness of vexed foam lying loose on their 
untamed necks, for the brooding of the untroubled sunshine, 
streaks of spirted rain, driven horizontally by the maniac 
charioteers from the south-west. The woods lay huddled 
and dim beneath the lash of the storm, and from a dozen points 
in the bay streams long summer-dry poured their torrents of 
turgid water that stained the sea yellow. Thick on the open 
loggia lay the leaves and branches which the wind had shredded 
from the pines, and the feathers of the tall pampas grasses lay 
stripped and soaked like formless fleeces on the gravel. There 
was something exciting and disquieting to the mind in this 
rage of the world's forces, as well as bewildering to the senses, 
and Eleanor, such was the effect on her individually, made 
incontrollably restless, yet ecstatic, at this splendid tumult, 
had started off, directly after breakfast, for an unaccompanied 
walk. 

" If anybody else wants to walk," she said, " I beg him not 
to come with me. I want to go quite alone. The wind has 
got into my head, and I am mad." 

The effect on Harry w^a strangely dissimilar. 






• ! 



in 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 
— !!Z!lJ^'*J[.'"'*'"«""«'-«»ellmeMit,"li«i»id ••iv.™^ 



Frobabljr the force, if properly^ 
wS^**" "» I^«»don. and ligG tie 



week." 



ly stored, would work aU the 
the town with electricity for a 

'• B°«;.S<3iSriLl!^ Lor t??.*^." ^" "M i*-^ 

into CMM MhSkinrt !^TL 7i^ ' J"" ? ™°' OTCiything pat 

J»ny interrupted. ' *^ 

into^L^L'sLT^^wSr* ^^•'y^^g. •nd put u. aU 
oaire Sd 'w m?rU / ^"h someone would put me into a 
«»ge, ana let me Just sleep and eat bo thn* t «Ll3i«»* ? 
•ny more, and neednH «*«,«^ ' tnat l needn't work 

"Oh, ue you a rottsr !" Miced Lonis. •< what a nitv l» 
« this t^ffi*S.omtaT^„5"'°l.«"2"' "•«» •' ""^ 

anticipatewhaiTwM ^ud^L \'i^? ^' ^™^ appeared tS 
so quiSSy. ^' ""^ "^^^ happened. And it b^an 

" Yes. it's a pity." said Harry. " as you so Justly remark. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 
OAkespeare wrote wme rot Aboat » thing being » pity and 

"•^ ^^ ;(^ *°"? •• • °^^P P*»»"»« >■ oWTft if thought 
PTOTerUal. ^e only good point, apparently, in proverbe i« 
their age. What a oonwlation that would be if it applied to 

1. 1*^ »o«' Jove, there's more play theie if I could 
work it* 

Louie still felt as if he was acting in some preordained 
scene ; whatever he said would prove to have been written 
for him. 

" Ho^ you fellows ipve yourselves away !'* he said. " Is 
this the magic of writing, that you say something quite 
excellently, and then see how you can bring it in !" ^ 

Hany had taken up his pen. At this he throw it down. 

That's the way I write now," he said, "Just because I 

don't write now. To go back a little, I said I was a rotter. 

Can you conceive a more convincing rotter than a man who 

grasps at straws like that, in the hope they will make him 

■^'*™,' r^^ *^®'*' ^""' JO" »» » "iend of us both, aren't 
you, both Eleanor and me f" 

" You need have no doubt of that," he said. 

Hany was in the clutch of his temperament. His tempera- 
ment, weak and womanlike, demanded the self-indulgence of 
confession. He wanted to show his shame ; his individuality, 
if you will, craved for recognition, and, ^^istically, he longed 
to prostrate himself, not only to Eleanor, who in SMne 
sense was part of himself, but to an outside observer. 
Cunowty also was an ingredient in his mood ; he wanted to 
know if the buried things on which Eleanor sat, as on a grave, 
with such smiling imperturbability, were known elsewhere! 
It IS only the saint who for charity'^s sake does not let his left 
hand know what his right hand doeth, and it is only the 
utterly lost who have no curiosity as to the figure they cut 
in the world, nor wonder what their right-hand neighbour 
thmks of tfiem. And Louis was a right-hand neighbour; 
that subtle self-indulgeaoe that prompts many confessions 
excited by the storm cried to be known, especially if it was 
already known. Also Louis loved his wife ; there was drama 
abroad. 

Well, then, I speak to you as Eleanor's friend and mine," 
he said. " First of all, have you heard anything about me ?" 

"Concerning what ?" asked Louis, uselessly fencing. 

Hany cot up, stung into a blind impatience. Hefelt sure 
Louis had heard. 

"Concerning me p id my charming habits," he said. "I 



i 1 



ik 



ill 

j 



'^•ctocorr usouition tbt chait 

(ANSI ond ISO TEST CHART No. 2) 





/1PPLIED IIVHGE 



Inc 



16S3 tost Main Strwt 

Roch» I, N«« York 14609 USA 

(716) 482 -0300- Phon. 

(716) 288 -5989 -Fox 



S70 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



think TOO most have heaid that I am a drankaid, and tli 

iSSm A^trnth:?^ "'' "^ "'^ "•^ ^^^ ^"^'^P ^ 
This time Louis faced it. There was no use in tryini 
tain the subject off. Besides there was Just a hope Irftl 
ilarn^ had spoken of these things only to deny them. 

Since you ask," he said, "I have heard both these repc 
and I have treated them as I treat aU gossip about fne 
wnenever it reaches me." or 

" How is that ?» asked Harry. 
"Denied it, of course. And now, for God's sake, old I 

them " '**"^' ™® *^* ^^^ " °° *™*** ™ ®^**^®' 

"But there is. They are both true," said Hany. 
There was a long silence. Outside the rain drove in voU 

Bfv, and the wmd squealed around the angle of the hoi 

Then Harry spoke again. 

„!," J**" T\ . ® ^T K *t® ?®^^" *^® «"<!' " «»d I won. 

whether that is another of the bournes from which no travel 

returns. I'm weak, man ; that's part of me. I'm decade 

djMfenerate, what you will. But don't think that I acquies 

t^. "^^rmng, for instance, I loathe what I am. I ^ h 

Destial it all 18, but then you see I can't write unless I have be 

dnnkmg, while lately I can't write even if I have. But dri 

makes me happy ; it makes me not ashamed any more • 

makM me acquiesce. Do you suppose one goes to the de 

Just for fun, or that it's for fun that I stand here piUorvi 

myself for your benefit ? I would to God I was di£felrent. ai 

yet . . . ill was different I should no longer be myself." 

Louis Grey got up. ^ 

"Don^b aigue about it," he said, "for there's nothing 

argue atout. You've been making a beast of yourseK; o 

ohap,andyouvegotto8top. We aU go to the devil at thn« 

but we come back, and behave like decent folk again, as v< 

TL.^^ Tn' J^""^ T**^ y°"' ^« ^ a proper mi 
should. Ihank God, nobody could be so wicked aTto U 
her. But if you want a motive stroi^ enough to brace tl 
merest JeUy-fish, there it is for you. Just imagine if si 

A look of sympathy and pity came over Harry's face J 
was needless perliaps to enlighten Louis on that point f< 
he knew how it would hurt him. On the other handfhe ci)u] 
2SiX? ^yf^""^ deceive him about it, or with convictio 
ejaculate on the horror of Eleanor's knowing. But it wi 



UldtlMtl 

dship with 

1 tiying to 

>e left that 

a. 

Me reports, 

rat fnends 



9, old boy, 

I either of 

r. 

in volleys 
^e house. 

I I wonder 
traveller 
decadent, 
acquiesce. 
[ see how 
bave been 
But drink 

more; it 
the devil 
pillorying 
•rent, and 
L" 

sthing to 
rself, old 
at times, 
Q, as you 
•per man 
ks to tell 
>raoe the 
le if she 

face. It 
oint, for 
he could 
•nviction 
b it was 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 271 

■iW^dLaui. would not und.,^°ttat ' '^ """ 

g«d you in it, i. rgiriotAheluzr'fo^rLa 
«|a^2.j"' ''»™ *<»' <"7 p«- H, w« t^ 

•• SLI^ r" "?■=„"»* «> specially !" he said. 

me md my distrust il ySS Uke °" "°' ""* ^^ <""« 

Mistrust!" asked Hairy. 

,^^g^ -p. pushing l«k his ehair, that grated on th. 

Louis sat quite quiet for a moment. 

« 2?? '* !^°'® "* * P^y '" ^e Mked. " or did it hapnen 1» 
Happened, you ass," said Harry. "^" « nappen 1 

^^^in there was a pause. 

I beg your panlon." he said, "for calling you an ass. 



''■ tj 



If 



h 



!H 



ill 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



272 

SS'^li u*"** *"?*8^® y<>«' not knowing. It wjems fti 

S^^n*^.r '^^ "^ *» mtimate^;rtiin.^I 1 
givwi you the real answer. My turn now i«^.iJ 

Aom 5S ^i"^!f oj the d.y a .addm flwh <rf Hghtl 
f^^J^^ the i^a«U ,rf th, rt»rm a ib^ 

a.^'^i!L''?*""v"'^ H"^' " I hate thunder. But i 
^u'SSThetna'SlV- ^'' - «»«• "-^ « Oi 

" I have mine." ^' 

« Ski** *"• 1 ^ ^"*? ^e' lo^ yon" 
While you love her V' 

" While I love her," said Louis. 

inriffi;*f Sr^ "''il'l?^ ^'^'^ ~^ ^ °^e«oored by a m. 
mswtent tumult. A buU's^ye of Iightnin« iUuminated l 
dark room, a crash of thunder. cW fSini SoS 
wreanung wind. To the north the sky wriiev^ I 
win-laden sirocco, but to the south. aid^X^s^lvJ 
j^ a blaclmess infinitely more menacing AHyTS 

JioSfi^«f:«^f ^.f *^ru^ **^» fari^^sLrSbte 
t^Mder ™^ fK"^"" •S*''^ *^? "^^"^'^^ o««»k of immSL 

aniliftyitte^"* ^ '*'" "^^ ^*^' '^^^^ » ««ddon stab 

Even as he spoke the door opened, and someone entem 

It was impossible to see who it wSs. But on^^onf^ 

^^jX.^^"^^ light again, and they ^^Twilhe 

Ah thank God, you axe back !" said Ham. runninffto he 

^.^^^^^^''.'^^^l^P^SMBheww. It seemed to him thi 
withm his soul no less fearful a storm was ragii^ 



I 



lems fanny. 
Buid I have 
liy does it 
our lives as 
smor either, 
one for ns. 
>fgae88ing. 

>f lightning 
htinderolap 

Bat why 
b! Or do 

qaietly. 



monung. 



by a more 
oated the 
moed the 
with the 
wittly up, 
it reached 
sribble of 
nmediate 
oom the 



^^HAPTER XVI 

2Wffi^,rto^,^^^^^^^ ^ weeks ago 

been a great suoceas. and th^ w J nHil^f *?u' ^t^* " ^ 
r^i a second pla^ into Xa3 ti,"** **'°"«*^* *boat 
nooses every xuaht An/i ♦!,« T^^^* There were orowdMl 

JjUjg off^htTtiuXS'n^'^l^^.P^S'^^ 
<rf Hermione and Perditakn?^;i i**^"*' ^°»^fed the parts 
whether she was the S fe?bfe IT *^" "^^^^^ ^ 

Zl ^\^^y ^ ^^^^^^^Z^l^^ womanhood 
mother, bat even so weJe ih^^^T "**^® y»no« for the 
ypong enough to b^ Twr T^ ""^^ ?®*^e« who looked 

Wa Jt ^as not c^bff tbTshf"^^*"" ^ BesiC m 
«d H«mione might^ ^Z^^^^^f ^<>'« *han sixteen. 
^ mature age ^thirty-f oS X^P^ ^""^^ '«»«hed 

«»» might be thirty-foir And* f'h- 5® ^^ ''*** ^"^^ **• but 
»^ . . . London ^,^' ^^ *^* *«°«. »a<i the statue 

^^'^n^ot^^t^^Snooess is sweet to 
•tooiience of wastefsSdom iL^.I^^ ^^''^'^ ^^-d^We 
aaset towards h« h^ppi3 ^i^'J^ '* ^*« » v«V big 
rather serious defioit.^^Sh^as not S 2? f ^^^^ ^^^'^ ^ a 
nor could she be. since it waTdeSr t W i* ^^^^ *^"* S«^. 
conduct he had been aLohf*2^ • ^® ^*8 "^t happy, fi 
*««in«» of it ! He ^1^1 unimpeachable. but.^SJ t£ 
nig^d like a sick anhn^^^^d^i^Tf ^ *" *^ vit;tlity ; K 
Pfrfectly well, and a ^c^tl,, to Jim ttfS"^^^ ^^ 
to.«o, gave the same vSt E^ w.!^?*^ Persuaded him 
dihgent. in his attempt^Twork anTH.^^**' P»*beticaUy 
few meagre pages of th^ TortU^ 1^^ ^^ K^'^d ^Jt » 
devitahzed as hSnself. The S L W ^ nerveless and 
Anstrnther was still i:aniw^and ^.t^ "^^^ ^°' Marian 

n^hthehadbeentosSTeh^&il'"' \°^ ^^^ ^ 
•I want to see it." he sai^" bSL^t^lfe I" ^« «W 

n the least thaT? ^„ J .*?^ '* may^bua 



n»e up. It isn't in the W th.f?*"* f ^^"^ '* ni 
won't go if you J^mk'Zl'SdLj^' *" «* ^• 



But I 



11 



! *• 



'? 



274 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



ae was silent a moment. ^ 

.. 1 ^'^ ^ how vou can," he said. 




movM T V»u T^ ^^y' there's life in it I The 

''1C«^'^' "^^'"-^'oM M^fmy"^ """ 

aliu<^weU-Sr^»'^^ ""^'^ *** *^* **«"*-I don't 
^S^^^^l^^^"" ^®°* oi» again, speakimr ouioklv 

wantyouto^owtSt R^f? lovmg.kmdnoss to me 
The^ bitteSL of the word'^l™^ T'i'' '^f ^^ 
Ele^or^soul. But it*t rS bittJST^e; "^ 

inr:i?^rhe?£F«^^^^^ 

thJr,:^tv^Tht:5rtet„^;S\^^^^ 

nothing movSi him ^ ™°^®^ *"°^ '^^ ^o^fi 

what is the Sr^STrnf ? "^^ '• *'?''* ^«®^ •• **" 
I blunted noma! LweDtSn K "^ '"^ ^* ^ "^^ o^ ^^^ 
when I don'SKS ?f w^^^Sl«*r"^*S« ^- ^^ 
it makes no marksT *® ****** *'^^* !>«« 



' And, Hany, 
»mehow whoi 



STBtand what 

i]> and next 

lonths ago I 
! The thins 
ig at myseS 
nd certainly 
of twaddle I 
ecially when 
ider the ice. 
lead." 
there was a 



THE WEAKER VESSEL ^. 

^^l^''^^^ ^oite co^t. 

order to have it cXd^U'LSSSer ^ ?^ *"« «^^ m 
gema without going to ? Sr •?^' ^ •5*'^ -^J neural 
James last week, you know S^f' I, J® *"<^- "I aaw Sir 
told you that-whethefl hid ^^^^ '^^^ ^O"'* think I 
Her fingeiB closed on 4 wm^ ^temperate." '^ ' 

rej^jT' ^°" '^«-' ^'^ -.'. she said, but without 

thesoftjL^hUt ferVo^thJV"*^I'^-^t*ed 
I should get better. He weiri W ^* ?,® ^^ ^« t*»o«ght 
fnbed a year ago. He caJ^^ * ?^*^y ^^at you pre- 
how doctors stiJJ think that if ^L ^^' ^- !»'* it fuC 
rt ,nU make a diSce It&t^ ^?«*. ^W give^J 

«noe those days at Paraf^ri A^fii^ ?^i^ f ^^'^ on him 
2fo^Tdth which he k^/?ff driLk^iif*'^ had wSoJmed the 
what she welcomed was not *«^' /¥? «*^® had seen that 

faaure of one ont of^rht^dS^Sis'^hit'"* "^^^^^^ 
a man. He was ceasini? to oa^T rf™*8 that are normal to 
Jjcluded in the nu^^ t Cn^ thTt^« ' ^^""^^^ ^ 
but that there wfs a general Ta^n^^** ^f ^*8 victorious, 
hu. d«dies were drowsV X wSi?^"^ ""^ "««• He Md 
JJ^of desire. Even /hefe^nL^H^'^^^^* '^^^ ^7 
havB been something ; eve^^ v!^*** ^ »«ain. it would 
spun.:.. All herl^nSletf r«ti2!r!^.**' ««e Mariim 
•omethmg lying witW^ffi mo.f ^l^^!!''* *?^ °»o«on. b^ 
would have flAed with WaT th« 't^^^u^l ^«Pw^ble. 
jnythmg. It was this imiS^r,,Sf*^7«¥. that h^ 
her. But she made rhu«e^o2 l°^^^"^**^t?araly^ 
despondency. «^® ^^^^ to rise above her oW 

41?" £^*^ thLTsrlrX' t -^^- " You can 
medicine-bottle! Let's nut if i.!iif°'^'^ *™«- HeU and a 
attack and a tonic." ^"*'*"^°*^«'^°«»s. Slight nw^uj 

«»id he" "^T^"*il^:Y--^{^t Bounds mo 

to. Bracebridge to^^^^f^^the^'a^"" ^ goixJ*^5n 

*hmk I won't come with you?" ^'^^^'^y* ^'^ * ySi ? i 



I 



I 



^* THE WEAKER VESSEL 

•nd fay to work. But I tS tf?oJ^;JS? **^ "^^ «^ 
Musagee for breakfast andth« „i:„i?® ^*\yon. and we 1 
theSundav-8ohool ^/f ?? tne church, and the roast beef i 

the oold^«^S«r^i„^°trX^^^ 

•houldgo niad!" P^Jers and The Chrifltian Year, 

Eleanor laughed. 
»t Braoebridge. WhT of 7^„» '»Ji>gly about Sniitb 
She paused. 

He shook iLhoS^' ™"»^.n>thortiniiSy. 

loo^'fo?SL'V^o*^>,,«^<^- "Hewant«you;hew. 

^r^S^t^atStr^t^-- ungove ^ 

The 8inceritvred^m<2^*r\ ^e,«claimed. *^ 

terrible paS'^fwTCSs*?!^^^"*^ «' ^*' «d o^lj «» 
nor their egoism. ™**'® Eleanor, not their crueltj 

H?^;iSS ^f?' •'" «*^« «»id. 

He looked at her sombrely as if f«^- ^ 

"""TSn ^h^^Y*^ *^««^^t htl pS^out'ofT^/^"^' 
I can hardly rememW what if f^ff^M °' ^ ^®- 

said. " or to be glad, or to bel^hU \K'i *? J*°*v" »^^ 
anything was the day wh^ wa w^^V ? . ^* *»me I fell 
I^^^aggi. You were oStri? aZ^-*^* ^^^^ «*«'°» at 
got back. Since then, nSh^g?^'^*««°'«Jieved when you 

a|^PtKea1re%-^rb^: ^5\f ^ ^'Perform- 
with her maid, she found the 3 ^^hT^'^'i '^^ °*°« ««' 
weekend, waiting for her Z^'' ^^A^^' ^««8a«e for the 
pavement was lined with a Wl i«5^ iiappened now, the 
Pt. and that little rec^^t^,^ l^^^T^ZS^S^^^^ 



t what will 
with him. 

"There's 



>" he said. 

my time, 
ndwehad 
It beef and 
•belli, and 

Year,' I 



she said, 
i Sundays 
3re, or go 
— or any. 



■top here 
mdly. 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 

k a«k^1 



niBhthI?: ^^ ■** "» the staul. ti, ^' *"«* <^monded 

SStor^aU °^T I ^°« for hS before r"°T^°»*^^ 
oomSr if"i *°? *l»e shouts of ''^^^^^ °°»W reach the 



tOTiWe L^*^*' ^°"id thinnhatUi '^^^'^^^^'I'in 
l^ifi/^^} ^^^^ slie airivS^thll: 1 * remembered the 



f. 



S78 



THl WEAKER VESSEL 



I 'I i 



hi I 



late ^J«l!"** V^7 ,7®'*'" '^^ »id- " But it ini't 

K«„* T ™* **»»," we're not taken up for excMrfin, 
^W J «P«!* *»»« touae will be shut up." ^*^' 

th«iSl"^eij£Z ^^'^ **> »«d ^»^«» you came t, 
"No, ma'am. He was sittinff workine An»1 \t^^, 
he hardly touched his dinner. 1 tWnk L w«^^^ 
^^J^fi °^;am. Not thaUt's any busi^esf KiL^S 
j^ Heanor could not help her irritatioi andw^^, 

oiZSe.?"'*^''*' '' ^'*'" »^« **^d. "Please give t 
^Wn produced a small case out of the bag Eleanor 

"'no°S J™"^!^? "^^^^^ in»'am." she said. 
No. of course I haven't. Didn't you bring any V 

it sliMrm'emSy':^* "^ *^ ""^ "^'^ -' ^«. 
"fc*i?"J^'?*'^?,P®"°° '^lented a Uttle. 

dowir:iS5t*a^Ti:k'?"""^''^^^^^- "8^" I 
Eleanor puUed herself up for being cross. 

nerStlZondr^il^fi'' «-<^-'" «^« -d- "I -he 

ma'am^d'^Ha^^i?* *S^' *• «^^* ^^^^ «^ yo-' »ttenti 
Se Wt!?. uf^^"^' ^^^ "^^'^ voiUBual cordiality. Ti 
sne Deoame a httle more improving acain " Tir«„»k i 

"Sf*>S^^^°'^*<>*^^^eWSobse^vS«*' *^ 

beSlSd^^^Sf n'^'^vf^^^.^iy «^' this aSlS^ 1 

not thitt "^'VOV^^espoMenoy, and yet she told herself it w 
not that. And she saw that the oigiette which sKdb^ 



hed her with 

irhen Eleanor 

She often 

it isn't Twy 

coeeding the 

ame to the 

Morris said 
Tj looks far 

mine." 
ess escaping 

give me a 

Sleanor had 



loking, and 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 9^ 

~«nd with homeShCZt^JSf t?'.^' '^^^ ^^^ 
"•Be, not to have looawiftd kJ?!^ *® }^' ■ia» her mar. 
onTier heart. Thero^ ti 1 H^^'^ t' .ir olinriM^o 

^t". purely" Cvo«"l.J^'' JC. 'T"^'- '<« • «"• " 
P««» ia«h« oonjnn, itl^ °'°" 'o <>«. »nd that d<« 

nnmfo^.Vi.^ T . Z^' -l nope VOU wi I fl«J ' *"" * 






comfortable -I Sid^Ti J • ^^ ^ — 

you 'night'Wisht W^^oT^S^^*^'^!'"^'- - ^ -ew 
pleasure to see you in7h« ^^^^^ afterwards. It will be I 

dear Eleanor^Cv^atri^°^,?' ^?^ ^ P^ticular^wa^t! 
me the time. GooSf^hr^ ffi IStV^"' ^^ ^^^ oan spaw 
-Jade up the last thing!^ ^ ^^ **^e fire m your bedrSom 

jftSrseS^^ ^Sk'ZTlT the chioken-leg. wondering 
been in London t! - a Ck^oM.^"*' ^^' stepmoth^S 
to see her in " The W^tS's T^^e^? ^Sfl; ^""^ ^^ °o«^e t^ 
f^ggestion of improDriSvf h«ir i ^""J^^ could not be any 
for the second t?mr ^or 0^',.'^ f^ ^««W not have co^ 

B-PPosing she had A'Tr.T^,:^'^^ ireSS^ 






THE WEAKER VKSSEL 



S80 

*h*t wound, ami d« oSm«,2? r?? ^ •°*^*» *® < 

"Other. Howevw it^ hL» ?*" "^^^ *«>« »»« ' 
wouMbethewblStSr^^^^JSJ" ojnf^^^^ that 

qniotty upttwn/tiptoeW ftl^<r??^"*~ afterward. »h» ^ 
WoJbJcfZnShftSd^Sln?^^^ Only an e. 

'•ther'a dmS^^,^^.*^' *»"*•« «*« f>«f«* *»»« door of 

For aSe wwfe «te'^^i:2i^^^ *^ ^^'oo"- 
«*«» «pi«ad round h«r#i^^^^/T** ****« ^^^d and nk 
•gain. bSt^cTX h?r foLTSSi'*' ^PP^«» »»d ^.Sr 

«>Mmg fire whSTil^i J^ ' ^g .wakeful looking at t 

P««'i»ted . . . ,^d Se J^ aSr* "f *^ London if her fea. 
BerBtepmother Tr^JS^ to Have a serious talk wit 

«d «^to•^h^otL^Me*f^&1««' ^if^ 

ftJ thSghts. HSS^Z^thh^i^*^>*^^°»' delight 
«>ine long jouniennd The^ne^r' h*^T« "*""«* S>n 
matter, exipt hk !^^ a^J^ t^ ^" anything tlu 
^..'^Jfady d^wn*h::k'her^^ -okejSSden 

•«^t of the November mZ^^^^t^l '^ ««ly 
one was verv Iat« fni. ».«.J^iIi*_I^^ ,®" ^to her room. 

S^^ t^^r .L"*.ST f -^ »^^^t£:: 



> hm fothw, 
I bMB going 
ightotoooh 
aaiioipfttod 
n her ftop. 
« that tiiii 
K'Mnogood 

rapwatioiM 
• the went 
>yanea«er 
doorof fier 
he looked 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 

u. mammft. I amlo bmtv fn^C? My penny? There it 

^^^^ly^nSJ^^^^Jor she had aaid to 

fewed that Harry wonM J^t^i^.^'^^- She had^ 
««> to Marian.Tr he wafSS' "^^^^ '^^^ ^««^ hVwoSS 
y^torday Bhe'had XlV^kJS^^'^ '°VH and bj? 

JJ?* *»P^o«We, would oon^SLifJ^ t°^ *^«'^' ^^n the 
thought 8he knew what «hL uT.^ ^™- And now she 
death, wmething of S*kW ^^^ feared-iUnesa. Sent 
•peak, not a oaU^nSiyXt^olilffitL^r^"^^^^^ 

have been the bread of d^dTwht^i? ^'^tI think it^t 

; The'bS^ ofdlrt* rthT'l;??^ ^- «"^^en brightly 
text, Eleanor ?" * "* *^® P^^ion of fools. Is thS tfie 

«f '^"Ts^h lil"e^it%m ^ l^y '^"^"^^^ Bread 
fools there, Hany and I and Vi f^n ^^^^Y we were^ 
n«, and we all pliyed th ' fS.1 JS^ ^"^^ °*™« *« stay with 



^M 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 

B«inad<m s face asmimed a namelMs ohffl ; she dim^ted. a 
S^ mteroepted. a raising of her rither ^5S^ 
to^ her husband. And once a^ EleaS. ^ 
deeoended into a gulf . It was more San a gulf ; it waSi 

%t:^^f ^i^xir^ '^"^' ^ *^ «^ ^ 

♦».l^l*^"y "^y®*^ ^*** "«'" 8*^e «"d- "Thet« was 
thunderstorm one morning, and he and Harry were alone 
had gone for a walk." «»/««, 

"iS?nn?^? ***?* H?*P '* ?P/ ^°« °^ore the '.'.ea of t 
h^uS^ ^*^!u ""^^ ^'^^ °^d. and now it seemed 
h^^l!^^T*^*^^°,?P*°*^^y«'i*- Surely it was to oonce 
hewelf and Lduis. Then a moment's thought robbed it 

OMtamly she herself knew that Louis loved her. But wi 
&U her aflfeotion f or him-*nd she wore the knowledge of th 
hke a decoratioh-he was so wise, so . . . it was bSter thj 
wise . . . so straight. And once more she rebounded. 
« Vn« ""T '*^ .^^P^.yo" lited • The Winter's Tale,' " she sai 
You went twice, didn't you? So I suppose you liked it tl 
first time. Isn't it lovely to have the two pits to play, 
that sometimes you are your own daughter and sometim 
your own mother Do tell me, do we romp too much in tl 
l^ta scene? It's so hard to help it, becaSse it is such fun 

to^aaSSs^^*"*"''^^''"^' "^°*^""^*-«*' 

J^^ ^^^K ft^ ^i^' " ^**^ yo'" f»*her and I alwa^ 

om minds on Sunday morning. Perhaps it seems vei 
stomge to you that we should do so. verynairow. perhap 

h^ST"" r^^ * ^rfectly natural gesture, putting up he 
and ufflng it for the manipulation of her fork 

tn ^^iST.^^T^ ""{ "'^'" «^« «*^d- " But I am so reUev» 

to think that alf my fears Daddy, dear, do you pread 

this mormng ? May I come and sit in my old w£ iS 
underneath the pulpit ? Do you remember hJw you^p^ 

l^t^'^'^Vj'^ °'^^.**^^ ^r *>^ *^« P^Pi* when you w^ 
?S^' '^. ^ «*^.** y^'* "^k just at the moment th 
offertory sentences ended, and the choir sang ' Amen ' ezaotl^ 

•8lgaveityou,asiftheyhadAmenedthiS?" ' 



lij. Vn. 
toted, and 
J eytmM 
rs spirits 
t was the 
lanoe was 

re was a 
I alone; I 

>a of the 
leemed to 
ooonoem 
bed it of 
9 oared ? 
But with 
;e of that 
tter than 

she said, 
ed it the 

play, so 
>inetiines 
oh in the 
loh fun." 
intended 

I always 
lera from 
tns very 
perhaps, 
our old- 

l np her 
kwing it, 

relieved 
1 preaoh 
eat just 
dropped 
'ou were 
lent the 
ezaotly 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 283 

He langhed. 

lifcl rtSf Tr! ff"'"J^ '^- " ^<>^ odd that a little thine 

^Xtt SdT " '"'" ""''^ '" ^ ""^ 

^^^d what was th^mon about ?" asked Mrs. Ramdsen 

nf ♦iS «i!!T?i*' **^**' *oo," said Eleanor. " It was one 
^*S SSd^ '^^^""" P"*^*^^' ^-^ 'Charity suff^C" 

the revised, rendering for ' oharity.' »' °°"«°«' »»»<». "ideed. 
And that is where my memory fails, my dear," said he. 

Mrs. Ramsden folded up her napkin verv nAAflv ,l,,a ^^.^ 

She Sd ^vfr^t^ *^*T^" ^^ ^^^ ^^' dear El^or," 
fim^^!?'™, ^ ? did not If I reooUect right, go to ohuroh on 
fitan(ky mormng. Perhaps you had a oold ; no doSbt y^S 
had a oold. I was ready therefore to stay ii with vou S 

you BiN>ke of gomg to chureh, oould you snare meaKHK 
^ time after lunoh to-day? I oan^^^Tto gtt s^m^n^ 
^ht^wL"^?: °^ ^ *l" Sundav-sohoo] fir onJ^J^ '°°'~'*^ 
»«i w ^' ^^^^' ^^ doubt as to the solemnity of theoooasion 

as mnoh as from religious motives, it is to be fear^toJS 
in her old seat ust below the pilpit. agreed totihe W 
SS„T*„ ?^ ^^^' with^lSt'v^uman loi^ 
SThoS^cS iSrtr^? ^r P*^ ^^^« threshoffiS 
relSi^fKf ^ *® ^*?''*^ '''*°® "^ore at its doors, and to 
i^^t™ w® '??^®' *°d eagerness with which then we loS 
SJ^i^tl"*? °^ **' r^"^' *°d wonder what unseenp^^ 
are waiting for us there. And that seat in church wm ^ 
olMelymtertwrned with her childish days. She^^?S 
ma^y vows and exoeUent resolutions there, whioh^ilS 
foom the sense of peace and aspiration that hung aboS^ 
S^^r^i^ "'^^g «^« ^^1* ^ e^rtreme need ^hS peaSe 
S^nf aZ?T- l*^^ ^8?« uneasiness about HwSy sheCd 

ttM afternoon might be concerned with, for, apart; frorn^hMT 
she knew how well-founded her real aAxiet> SboutlSn t^' 



284 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



ScTTAh w If Tf '.lichen the sun was set, they bwZht 
rthe^l*?^?^]^ ^^^"l- ^d' fiUed with the 3e t 

T^n a little more light broke. 

Bhe f:^^t^r^! '^M -J^ ^y^ ^^ P^ ot it, 

makete woSi h^^Vm' laTA'^^^'j^ ^* * 
anxiety, if that is so . . » ^ " -^"^ 8*^ "^^ ™« 

♦1,^ *^® ^^'*^ °* childhood that had never deserted h« 

I want to withhold. . . .» "'«*''»oime. mere is nothing 

Her thoughts reviewed what she had vowed lnnH«„ *« 
rfd»m«ie«ny.«e™tion. She S» Z^'^^ttj^'JJ 



rpart; she 
t ne would 
tion which 
ag, he him- 
toobflotire 

lefoonssed 
ke a glass, 
at he had 
sd look no 
but oould 
soious and 
'lesenoe of 
^nd that 
ought the 
>eace that 
inquired, 
mplished. 
there was 
9ven, and 
1 at that 
L can no 
its hand 
"And, 
be borne 
to know 



•t of it," 

sent to 

ne more 

■ted her 
ildhood. 
so now, 
offered 
dy, and 
spoken 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



er4&Setve"sS?|J°^ %^ -d the money it 

dimly she saSXTSnd rSfr**"*^* ?1**» ^^ *»ttS!: 
Bhe gave that too No sS ^XJ^ T '^ ^.^«' «>«I « 
that which she h^ faSLkr^^tP^^P'^otl^gifonly 
,^^^ «ie nad brought m her arms might find 

get^Sd^^tt^^Trp^^litf forherse^^ She had yet to 
that of Han^ ihh^^^r^^^\^.^^\^d wZ stm 
:^^^r own " a litS. '^'?'t^'S .t^^trl^, 

t JJ^bti^^^lCvTit^^^^^^^^^ yet not 

JrtiU reservli the «' go&tnTr ""^V^^^ t^*- She 
had spoken to her afout l W *^^™^ *^* her father 

She stm thoucS of lli^^^"*«**^°'*^e^"andHMTf 

But that hSolgiv^L°°Tfh^H^°i ^^^^^^^ *^* 
God would not ask & He dS nof i"* ''''' ^^TV*' P^'^I* 
though He always t(Sr if wSl v °* ^^"^^^^ ^^ ^o' a thin^ 
knewif Re wZSaZ^tj'ofu'i^^.^y^'^'^d^^^ hardly 

months ago. 8he1^STC^'atwtj'lS*-di^V°"«xr"«^' «^ 
go to Marian if he wished Tf hoS^ * u *"^ *^°^ H^arry to 

that permission.' Notlhe'h^^'rgi^e^G^d ^h*" '"^^^ 
for him to go. In no of hoi. «^, a ? ^"^ the permission 
up. Perhai« flf would iS^I^C'^f/.^e ^tterly give he«elf 
knew? Sh?^hei8erW8 8ho^t?!?ifwv^'^'*°'^ye*^^<> 
was mistaken. In an? cas^it maff «i5"* '* "^^ ^^^^^ «he 
anyone else, becauseshe lo4d H^^^XfT? *^ ^^'- **^ *« 
all the world waa wr^«„ j -x^^" ^"t if. for once in a wav 

and not onlv matA^ ooc„ < Z- ,*"^' ^he had to acquiesce 
herself^ Z h^ to*dS ?^ ^?^,^"* "^^ke it mevil^blelS 
must keep notWng b^k Or wa« ft-7^ *^'*f°" ^"^- She 
which led her to 4h to '^i^ r!!? *^.«o°ie wile of the devil 
of sin clingSi? tJTt « T?Io ^ V^ *^^* *^^ the horror 
her. torshe^Vnofmeantl?'l4^^Jr' ^' "°"^ P"^- 

ww^ohig'^rord ht t^H^^ ^"T^^'^ «f ^^thhig tl^t 
seat justttw t^e p^St S^^^^ *? ?" ^^"«*^* o^ thif lif,t1e 

were not o^^rZ'&-i^X^,^C^^^:i^^^Z 



i; 



1 



280 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



£Sy Lf fc? ;l»f, became aware that she was etiU kne 
and that her father's voice sounded close abov» W 
^^^reaching in the language that was ^de^dld^ 

,r««Ti®*v???°*yf" ^y* '^'^n I afford it V it means 
you aie thmkmg of yourself. You may say about k^i 
you know you should do. ' It wiU break my HrtTd 
t^erhaps you are right, and it will break yoS^he^ Bu 

h::Jt'Hi*d;,e':*nS"; ^^^^^ 'r^- ^ ^UenlTd a co^ 
h^v fL? w °* ^^^'^' J *™ ^"'e we are meant t 
happy that He means us to be happy, that it is His will 

Eleanor gave one long sob. 

' Oh. daddy darling," she said to herself, " I jrive it »" 
Again she buried her face, and the cost of the^sI^rMoe 
desolation and outer darkness, which was exactlyThlt wl 

SS;«5u ^.^esired nothing to be left for herself 
stripped herself in intention of til she had. or thouX bea 

mtrnal''«7l- ^}' ^f , ^'T? ^° «e°^blance of huml^^^ 
httle naked, tired soul lay before Him who made it Sh J 

^TZ^ H '^* ' '^I«^^" ^.^^" back,^rJS;g noth 

mi«Sl ?W^^°°® ^'^i**?' ^^^^^'^^ ^^le happfned- 

miraole that is m need of no explanation becauao it if 

eiykrns everythmg, and is as clea? as the sir^^f ll 

matical laws. The peace that passed understaSij ac^r 

IZ r^ ^^^ surrender. It had been there for e^f wait 

^uSof°iL*^ ^77 '' ^*«.tber^that was aU tS 

b2^i *'T~*°<* *o recognize its presence. The mom 

her whole soul saw and needed it. it was open to her S 

;>,;; 1* ^JV^* .tbat it was withdrawn at all. but she fa 

dealed with. There was no less need of effort; and strueele 
her part, nor of patience and serenity and g(Sd S^ f 
BtJl had to grope and scramble in tlSs f o?^ hXn 1 

ZtZf"^'^^ ^?^i °^^* ^ cal^7conS.to 

S« n™^* T.r''* ^^^ ^'^^ *" ber troubles hadTme h 
the presence of the peace of God. 

The afternoon p^w chilly, and when Mrs. Ramsden we 
t^k S^Z'?i^*^ fawing-room where they w^ to Z 
then: talk she ht the fire. Unless Alice took W class ha 



walla of the 
ill kneeling, 
^ her. He 
aded of the 

means that 
t something 
rt to do it/ 
;. But, my 
i a contrite 
leant to be 
lis will, but 
our hearts 



re it !" 
icrifioe, the 
that which 
erwhelmed 
rself. She 
ght beauti- 
manity. A 
■ She had 
ig nothing. 
>ened — the 
se it itself 
of mathe- 
g accepted 
r, waiting, 
that was 
e moment 
er. Then 
she knew 
faced and 
truggle on 
inse. She 
iman life, 
ring-trick. 
}ome into 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 287 

teoCt'S^^tf^-t.^' ^ -/-<^y -body 

Bhe said-*8 if tZetim^ tt w^ "^ *^*?« **»"* *he bush," 
.^oometothepSJtSlt^^^^J «?od *^r« 80-"and'l 
last week, and I heaM oeSiV.^^ " ^?^' ^ ^^8 in London 
and HaiT^ which I Sdl b^^^? *^«« ^*^«h concerned you 
not tell^u how ^^Sfe^to r?i; ^ ^°" t^""'' ^^^ 
completely convinced that ft t St^,f '°' ^""^ «^°« ^ »« 
that even if it was twicras iLS^T .?* V°" ^^f^ ^ «"w 
It I urged your father to^ak fn ^''^'^ ?°* '^^^ ^^^ 
utterly refused to do it" ^ *° ^""^ ""<»»<*. but he 

^^^r^riiuS:^^^,^}^^ r^ ^-- the strongly. 
;;Did he say why rtV^^^^.'^ ^^ ^^^P-othcr. '' 

tell you.' H^s^X'wo'uff^"^^^^^^ 
thmg of the kind to vou K« n JS * ^°" ^^ mentioning any. 
Bay. not to do so dtC* :^f Wjf ^ ^^*^ vehemence. I iZ 
.Mrs. RamsdenXew a h^Ht^i!? ^'f ^"^'^ unconviiced^ 
wiped her eyes. handkerehief from her pocket, and 

between us was never viteTl hi ^1!' ^"^ *b« difference 
lenient in his viewsThrts oft^ ?hon*t^ **^°"«^* ^°» ^ 
am aware that you think me h1^° ^°1^«^* me too hard. I 

fofeU^ *^-^-^ ^ the ,iiS:- She drew her chair 

betw^ASr^i^yrrK!,^ 'hr^^ »-- trouble 
both would feel it. PW ,!rm.!!^& J— ^ ^ow how you 
say to me, that I am Ti^^'' J^f«^«' y^^ bave^to 

buthteraVsheK^^tl^J^^m^L^^ ^'^^.^^ ^J'^^oe. 
mother «' felt," as she caSeTfSn^ SJ^^^^'^t that her step.' 

bard, and she had thoS thaTfkB^f J°' ^^^ '^^ ^« 
through her nature. (Sv it did nni^S.^"^ .^^'^t right 
of duty was paramount e^^now ft W ^5°"«? ^^' ^^ 
to get uppermost. ^' " ^*<^ evidently struggled 

"Iagreewithyou,"saidMrs.Ramsden,inaqueer,strangled 



I 



I '' 






288 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



il 



Jttfce. There axe two things I must teU you. The fii 
wii^"^ ^fT* **^* y°" '^^ Mr. Grey ai-^ire lovei« 
i^ir^ x^* '®' *. "foment quite quietly. She trie( 
remember the peace mto which she had passed this mon 
but the nghteous human mdignation washed it off her men 
She tned to deny what had been said gently, but she o( 
not There was an awful stillness about^her whrslS sp 

i. .. ir^Si'r ** ??^ i^^ ^ "y **^* *o °»®'" 8he said. 
« a damned he. Oh, I am not swearing. I mean just t 
Pon t speak, please. I want to say something more." 

She Mt with the dreadful silence in the roomTbrokenonlj 
a cheerful and msane ticking of the clock, for a moment or I 

j^u . X* ^*°* *? ^°^ ^^o *oW you," she said, 
doesn t interest me m the slightest. A I know is that 
nave told me. Now you must wait a minute: if I bo 
jpeakxng now I don't know what I shall say in answer to^s 
^tdV beS'oii^^^'* I was in peace this momi 

The thought of that mude her sick with disappointm< 
But a few hours ago she had felt so secure and sereneT and n 
when a test came, it aU broke down. But as her anirer a 

u red, no pe^e took its place, but only a sense of desolati 
-I,-. ^!j«<*j.yon t know why you should think me so vil 
w!irT u y^iU ^^'''^^. °°* ^^^^ °^« ^e lightly like tb 
S ^ ^u- ^^^ y°" \^ * "^- I ^^ better neither say^ 
thmk anything more about it. Or perhaps I had better i 
one thmg more I am sure he loves me, but then he is i 

« AU fu' ^f^e'wise he would not be my dear friend." 
Ranwd' ^^ ^°"® foundation for it I" said Al 

" Please explain what you moar." 

"EleMior, you have admitted that he loves you. Is e 
that sufficient to make evil reports ? You act with him eve 
night, you ..." " *= 

And then, looking at Eleanor, she could not at once go c 
There was an iimocence about her face that was sacred. Ai 
yet Mrs Ramsden's awful sense of duty, hard, and warpe 
and sterile, forbade the complete surrender 

"My dear Eleanor," she said, "I need not tell you he 
?i!^^t} ^^-^ t^ from your own lips that there is i 
^ of truth in what I heard. But are you -vise to be frien. 
with turn, and to let him make love to you in the theatre 



Thefixstia 
i k>vezB." 
le tried to 
is moming, 
ar memoir. 
t she ooora 
she spoke, 
said. " It 
i just that. 

TO." 

:en only by 
entortwo. 
said. "It 
8 that you 
if I go on 
rer to such 
1 mo rning { 

lointment. 
, and now, 
kUger grew 
lesolation. 
B so vile," 
like that. 



289 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 
It waa intolerable. 

"d report "gly «rfli«ShSXto n^ '"'i' *» •»«•"« 
yon not whamed f " "^ « up m a aewer ? And an 

S^. "fiJI,^ ^-.S-^SS ■r-f-l:^ wa. 
OTue mjustioe. and from herlSnJ^? • ^ ^®' *^e most 

^I'^hTk^^o^rnru^s^i^^^^ ""^' '^^^ 

things." 8heS.°*"I tS'J^'^il^ow I feel about such 
whom she loves is so uttX,SlV«hT.V^° ^ » *»»sCd 
make love to her. PerS am? •% ^^^ *^«*lier man even 
of her husband, and fouTjov^^J*^ ^°"l*° may go? S 
wretch! Butif onIyyouknewwW?w°'®''^^yel8l. p™ 
was my knowledge of thSt whL *^^*"7 ^^ <» me ™J 
see how I could hive hel^Tt^?^ °'"^" "^« ^'^g^- I do JJ 

t^oSi^rj. dre*'fee.^r^^^ s^^- 

Mrs. Ramsden knew fhl/;** ^^* ^ one." '^ 

causes. S^hi suflei^VtJT'^r^'y. <« «»ffer in good 
exhausted. And in so^d^^fc^?* ^^er zeal was^SS 
went on to state the second^b W I °^°i^®'' ^^ore she 
geanor had asked her foi^^S fiol^\ ^''^^ >"«lf that 
her wdbuman soul. ^^^ess. Somehow that consoled 

alsotWH:S^?^V?nd^'.f?V'^«^i<i^ "I was told 
Miss AnstrutS." ^' ^""^ **^* ^« ^ an intrigur with » 

not'^trn'to ^Xi^'orsTr!^ *^H*' *°^ *^« '-^^^ of it did 
and nobody had any C^L ^ f.. T. ^S^'^'^S f or Hai^^ 

known?" »" » He. too, she aaid. " Shouldn't I ha™ 

ID 



r 



I f 



I -f 



190 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



better be deoeived. Then she realized slowly what her de 
meant. Her father knew that this qnestion wag to be ac 
her ; he would tmow hA reply to it. If only he had asked 
she wonld have told him tne truth, and consulted his wis( 
and his kindness, as she had often thought of doing. . 
God knew. . . . She had asked for and Tound peace to«< 
because she had kept nothing back. The truth was so 
so big, and lies were always little. 

"That sets my mind at rest," said Mrs. Ramsden. 
hope, Eleanor, that I need not remind you how painful it 
been to me to do what I considered my duty. I shall 
tainly confess myself in the wrong to your father, and 
his liardon for doing what, after aU, I thought I was bo 
to do. I was nvTong, Eleanor. I — I ack your pardon al 

Eleanor got up ouickly, not noticing the hand that 
held out to her. She went to the window, and looked 
unseeing. The lawn lay level below the window ; bey 
was the orchard. . . . Her lie that had seemed so inevita 
became impossible. 

" It is true," she said—" it is all true about Harry, 
he doesn't drink any more now, and he isn't her lover i 
He won't be again ; I know he won't." 

She turned back swiftly into the room, so submerged in 
thought of him that she wr? both without shame and witi 
reserve. There was just another woman there — ^nothing i 
than that — a woman who was married, as she was man 
who must know ho complete was the desire of her heart 

" Oh, he is so ill !" she said. " His brain is ill, his n 
hurts him, his soul is sick. He doesn't care for anythii 
anything. If he only would care for anything, I thin 
should welcome it. Oh, mamma, I am so anxious ! He 
been to doctors, of course, and they can't help him. . 
whisky can't help him, and Marian can't help him, ai 
can't help him. He doesn't want any of us. I would 
him go— <jrod knows how hard it would be — but I woul<] 
him go if he wanted to go. But he doesn't. He said 
other day he appreciated my loving-kindness to him. 1 
was BO sweet to me. I wonder if I was harsh with him Vi 
I knew all about it. I scolded him, I despised him ; 
right to the end, when he ceased to love anybody, he Ic 
me. What am I to do ? I am longing to do anything i 
will make him happy, or make him care. I will let hin 
to Marian, if he only will care. But if he gets better, 
cares for anything again, perhaps he will care for me." 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



firm ground again ; she fcSw^S^^K^^'^"''- She waa^ 
acting under these oirouSnS^L^if~^'.i"«'*»od o' 
«>ing shocked. «»«»««»ce8. But she could not help 

" Jcti ^Tf yo« known this, Eleanor ?" -i,« - i ^ 
oftfnholped. t^Sy'SSl^; &lpTS^ k?«,.«SW 

.. g^y°JP« Wm ?" she said. ^^• 

possible, both in the eyes of (^^'*1^" ^« }^ ^^ is im- 
you how sorry " J'** °' ^'Od and man. I need not tell 

" HoW°tZy^*^*'" ^^ E^^^'^or- 

you connive at his^it wS huS"vol^ V''"'. "^.^^^ ' otherwise, 
me you know it. I do Tot ^^^ T*^ «i^«itery. You teU 
fy about your long^g fo* &Z^ understand what you 
dnnks, too. vou sav w„ ™ *^ °*^ for anythinff R« 

he iU.<i»ate/™uT^«t?y?? ''™' "» '^"' <'™n- H« 

saying?" "^ ™awa me ? she asked. "What are you 

ex;;S;^ maSjf*^^^\^ ^^eyou V went on the in- 
afraid he would ?» ^"^ "^^^^s. " Were you ever 

bits, and threw the fS^M.^ l^ *°'% ^ P«8° TpW to 



202 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



Eleanor freed her other hand. 

" Are you trying to get evidenoe ?" the said. " Other 
I do not understand your questions." 

"My dear Eleanor, you must have evidenoe, thoua 

dare say your word on oath would be enough. It will hey 

painful for you, but you must not mind that. You wil 

hanpior afterwards. What are the Divorce Courts for !" 

But they are not for me," said Eleanor. " I— I couU 

more divorce Hairy than I could give him reason for divow 

me. Oh, mamma, I don't think you undentand anythi 

anything I You have shown you don't understand 

You don't understand Hairy, either. Why, as long as 

TOuId feel, he loved me. He— he loved another woman, i 

You and I, heina women, can't imagine our loving two u 

without being vile. But a man can, somehow, wi^out be 

^e. They are different from us . . . they are such bab 

Harry is such a baby. Certainly I wish he wasn't, but h< 

a man. Once I told him that I thought he wasn't. Tl 

are tiresome, you know. Perhaps that is why we love th( 

We want to be loved so tremendoubly. Of course, they kn 

that. They can't help knowing it, since we make it so p 

foctly obvious But, dear mamma, if there is a chance 

Harry's loving me again, what should I think of myself i 

separated myself from him ; if I didn't make him know th 

whenever he reaUy, entirely cared, that I was— oh ! so rea 

for him ?" 

Mrs. Bpamsden had no -wiak to take those strong wh 
wrists in her hands again. 

"I can scarcely believe what my ears tell me you si 
Eleanor," she said. 

" No, mamma," said she ; " I was afraid that was so. I 
— ^but I was at peace with God this morning." 

" I think our talk is finished," said she. " I shall have 
tell your father." 

" I will," said Eleanor. " I know it would pain you." 

" I was only thinking how much it would pain him," at 
Mrs. Bamsden. " And there is one more thing. I know y 
have alwavs thought me hard, as I said before. You v 
think me hard now. But if you continue living with yc 
husband, I must ask you not to think of this house as yc 
home— at least, it cannot be your home and mine also." 

" Do you mean that you do not wish me to come here 
asked Eleanor. 

" It is no case of wishing — wishing has nothing to do wi 



'OtherwJM 

though I 
till be very 
fou will tie 
fop ?•• 
-I oonld no 
r divorcing 

anything, 
stand me. 
ong as he 
)man, too. 
; two men 
lout being 
oh babies. 
, but he is 
I't. They 
ove them, 
bhey know 
it so per- 
chance of 
ayself if I 
now that, 
I so ready 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 293 

•ha Mid. "« •" my poniul affwtioa fop your fatlwr'- 

quickly round rtre^°w'^P»'hou',ido fop .ytoPnad 
I aunt m what that i.," .& Jiid 

it woulTbe addi«Mrf taC. .^ '""' ^'"' '•» "ho know 
« was signed by their doctor. 

w^.c^'5,Sfi^t5r/sr'hi''r '^''^p-«'« 

■w««,alitEoiurtiiidkna(to;Z.m '™'?'- ,AU «» Wttep. 
noon wa. g„ie th3m«? .ho'i^jS^A^ 'f 'f *^« •"«- 

"HLIp.'S.f l^fi---. n.V" *, .aid. 
Jh. got up ,u«,kly. Hapd of eoul.^he wa. alept in material 

•• Of couree. . ^ wSh I cl*,!^^"" ^°" ^^ ^"^ '" 
Eleanor paused a moment IS,'^?^^"^;:* 

would be understood ^® '^'^ '^o* ^o^ « she 

Ha'r^!"''"'' Yo'u mit h^°" "^"«* think-think kindly of 



r 



CHAPTER XVn 

Hm^ ■ study at the flat in Mount Street. letUng it iSk i 

te. *?^ *f **^°^^ Pf^ <>' *»«*"• As yet tb? knowled 
though clow beside her. so to speak. waToutside h^ I 
had not assimilated it yet. ^^ 

asr^ifh^i? ^^ ^** '^^ Saturday night, for one of 
S^ES rt^i ? u7v"** •'^"^ ^ **»« dining-room at th 
i22?;# 2^1^ ^*^^ **'?^.'?" "oattered some twenty.f 
•heete of foolscap, aU scribbled on. The earliest ones w^ 
Ml ontoanr neat, precise wrltina ; later, they became spra 

ujegible. He had not got up on Sunday morning tiU nea; 

K;!;f ^'^f"** "."^'^ as that was ofer he . «| gone o 
Ammute afterwMds he was knocked down by a motor as 
«£«ed Mount Street and had been brought back he 
m^aZ "?"5 "PS** mjury-how grave had not yet be 
faUy determmed. But from his waist downwards he appeal 
to be paralywd. He had drunk heavUy at lunch. 

Jjeanor was waiting now to hear more, for both doct 
^hZ?r" ^'i;!!}}^ ^"J •S*^- They had arSSd n^a^ 
S.il^ *i^ *°^ ^^""^ ^"8 to him Sir James had told h 
what she Imew. He had told her aU, neither making t 
worst nor the best of it. Ph>bably-the details did not see 

might be some mjury, not that, from which he could recov 
LL 'li*' X f^'^r ^ ^™® other internal injury, whi 

would account for the symptoms as thev stood. There we 
£^«1«^ three thmgs possible, one of which certainly he 
happened. If the spme was mjured there was no reason wl 
fie should not hve, and bve as long as anyone else. If the 
WM some worse mjunr. which they were now investigatin 
there was but httle hope, and such hope was but dtesrS 

ii V ^.Z^ ^?" *^** *^® symptoms could be accountc 
lor by some other mjury, which time might set riffht. Bi 
in any of the three possibiUties, he was now in serioSs dange 



e niffht in 
t linic into 
mowledffe, 
her. Slie 

one of the 
n at three 
¥enty>fiye 
es were in 
ne sprawl- 
ire totally 
bill nearly 
gone ont. 
>tor as he 
EM)k here, 
yet been 
appeared 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 205 

B^ oared reiy little aboat the manner in »hiok *h« 
loM inrt ontdde, •»! « motor driraa rapidiv dowTtK. 
« nn way, for he was not in a oondition to ohmm « .^m^ 

S'SJ^-K Vr!"^ to avoid wS S S,kT;4 bS^- 

or staggered, had been stmok by the mudimard and thSSim 
a^t a Ump.pojt. They fouJd his^o^SnTh the ISSS 
arrived he had been brought back hen In hU hand £3 

bSLUffeP**-'?? ~*^*'r*^ ^ Ele^^nor. whfeh now.^ 
bedanbed with mud, lay on her knee. It ran : 

af^^n.'?^*^ "'^^ "* *^^*^*- ^^«"« ^^^ »>wk this 

It was just legible-more so than the last pases he had 

SSuSbi' SSf 'f ^'^"- I* ^" »^«' -« Elea^o^tholght 

exf^?fn«"n# r° -'"^ y**- .^**«y *^ *oW her that the 
examination of his mjunes would take long : it was Do»iihI« 

warned her with regard to this that he was not a iwwdTubieJt 
^i^nJ. ^ *^ constitution. She knew. too. what 

no?.^it"tm?h?^t*° ^tl ^ °«°»f "nioate with Marian, 
nor iras it till the olook on the mantelpiece struck eieht that 
she wmember^ that she would pro£blv a^ve h^re Tl 
few minutes. She sent for the parW.maid. 
"ShSSfhe^fe:^"^ *" ^«- immediately," she said. 

thf/tV *•* '•h° «P«^e the front.door beU rang. Next moment 
that glonous figure appeared in the doon^ay bl"k?S 
hM i;7±n^t'''v,"' rose-colour. She had a sntue T^i 

mi y:^:^:iAetiT'' ^'^ ^^^'- " ""^^y ^ -* *«" 

faI''li?h?h«T^ ^^'T' ^*^ °^* ^P^J'- She was face to 
JM>e with the woman whose presence was an outrage to her 
who had done her best to take Harr>' from her, aSd dra^ 
him along his x-umous path. But immediately kll thatwS 
best and most real in her swept aside the mea^^ t^T 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



296 

d^ this aft,„,c„„ by a^or^rs^w 4Cptt 

Marian gave an exclamation of horror. 

. ' „^ dreadful— how dreadful i" she mM " t . 
SO"? I You mustn't mind my mrtSi' tlit I T „ ? " 

Jr^aSfsitnrs *" "«' '"" '-"» >«" <-'• 

Marian took and pressed her hand 

only an ^K you anfl^ll J 1^°"" ""^ P'^^^^^ *^«« « 

nght to ask you even that." ^ ^ *^^® °° 

EteMor looked at her with her quiet, candid gaze 

oir^x ■'^"®?® °^*y be worse miury as well " ^ 

«.«t A?rder"^^Syii»i^7«l ™ Oer face that 
"We muTtrit to L? ™«S*Z "Td ^^-^ "^t^^- 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 297 

-I want anybod^wf riovS^a^ P?*"^- ' ^*"* ^^^ 
I am here aU alone." ^' ^^^^ ^^ y«» ^• 

For a moment Marian could not snAalr Th^^ 

a generoaity so sim|le o^fJEe "■<• """ ''"' ""f"^ ^ 
" St ^""^ ^ f "''' "V".'" *« »»« at length, in » whisnep 

get n^mXg^J*^ -T"" ™^ »»>«1'. I wUl teU them to 

aeitoto H»,I;T '\f '■ ''''™ *''\*™ '■"d dined, and petumed 
jaiiim was over, and Sur James oame to teU Eleanor the 

Xt-is Si^°^on':.'i?rgot^„Trs£r£?? 

n« rea«>n why he should not'uveX ytiXt t^o™ 



la 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 
SftS'*™^!"^ *^ r*"' *8»^ B«* '""oJ^ depended 

her haidTht "^' '"*^ '^' ^°"" ^^"^ ^^ ®««o'. 

"You muflt just wait, my dear," he said "wi*' 
patience and hope that you can summon He h 
vety weU. There is no marked raUy y "t inWs vicai 
Tlutt may come ; that is what we ho^ for.'^ ' """^^ 

Eleanor nodded ; then, after a Uttle pause, she spoi 
" Vo^ do really hope for that. Sir James V'sht 
nIZ fft*""^* ^ "?^° ^ I* wo«W be really better fc 
^. / ''^'"t .^^ ^ ^ ^orth living, tf he W 

his, \!z: r2:a^i?.^^^^' ^°' *^ -'^ - ^^ 

•' Thank you And may I see him ?" 

"rrirJl'- ^«^J0" *«. and he also wishes it." sa 
There is somethmg that is bothering him and I^ 
quite make out what it is. He knows yoS^re here 

you came. He is anxious to know that you reSiv. 
telegram. Can you make his mind easy afi tS o 
some delusion of his ?" ^ *• ° 

Eleanor got up. 

"TeU him that, then. Now will you so in iust 
T^^ Do not stop long. I will come fo? ^u " 
^soon as Eleanor had left the room Sir JaS turn 

wl! J*ot^® u ^^^ y°" ^"^ *^® ^8 Anstruther of whon 
Whittaker has been speaking," he said "Tf ia «« 

of mine, of course, bufhe asled me to^ieU theLvante 

ir^hafZ^T '°-^«^* y^'^ ^«^« *° b^ told he w^no 
also that his wife was expected." 

Marian bowed, somewhat steelily. 
I stopped here at Mrs. Whittaker's request," she obsei 

Pi5f^ was Ijmag in the" bed in his dressing-room 
Eleanor passed through their bedroom to get to T Tl 
the surgeon's assistant was just finishing fhe ^king-J 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 299 

such things m had been used, and with a Uttle shudder she 
averted her eyes. The door into the dressing-room was half 
open, and she went in without pause or tremor, fearing 
nothmg. A nurse was softly busy about the room, putting 
things tidy, and she smiled to Eleanor as she entered. 

He IS m no pain," she said quietly, " and quite conscious. 
Ue wants to speak to you privately. I will be in the next room." 
There was a screen at the foot of the bed, and Eleanor 
passed round it. By the head was an electric light turned 
away from his face, which lay low on a single pillow, white 
and .wide-eyed. When h« saw her he tried to raise his head, 
but It fell back again. 

T» 'I ^'^T^n.^®^^'," ^® ^^^^- " They've been pulling me about. 
But, Nellie, did you get my telegram? I wrote it, and 
1 went out to send it. Then— I can't remember." 

She knelt down by the bed. 
•4 " v®^' ™3\<^arling," she said ; " I know you meant to send 
.Si. XV 7 written it, and they found it in your hand, 

lliat brute of a motor knocked you down before you eot to 
the post-office." * 

" No, no ; not their fault," he said, speaking quickly. " I 
was tipsy— horribly tipsy. I want to tell you— I must tell 
^^^Z^^^ ^^^^ awfully tired and weak. Wait a minute." 

Ihe effort had exhausted him, and he lay still for a minute 
or two. 

" IH ^^^* before," he said—" last night, I suppose— after 
you had gone, I began drinking, and— and once more it made 
me want. I wanted to write. I had got things to say again. 
and I wrote and drank half the night. And then I wanted 
Marian, and before I went to bed I wrote and asked her to 
come thw evening. And then after lunch I was sorry, and I 
telegraphed for you. I was muddled, you see. Instead of 
stoppmg her, I telegraphed for you. I— I wanted you. If I 
had only stopped her, J should have been alone, and then 
... then I should have gone to her. Don't give me up, 
Nelhe, for God's sake ! I'll try to do bettei. I've made a 
hash of It. . . ." 

Eleanor gave a great sigh, and kissed the white weak face. 
For your sake and for my own, my dariing, as well aa 
irod s, she said. 

The Uds of those staring wide open eyes fluttered a moment. 
That 8 good," he said. " That makes me feel a little 
quieter I feel as if I was all lit up inside my brain— millions 
ot lights— and as if I myself was sitting in a comer of it 



300 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



waating to go to sleep and rest ti„* 

put some of them out tS-J^' ■""* y°" "ying tl 

H«?i7:K::Suir«Xwaf i^^^^ ^ ^^<^ to 

moment it was diSt now?W u*° ^'"®* *^^™' »°d f 
ofthepastintrud^tL^^ltti!^:?^*^ Tb 

mg in at the windows ofh^^^^^lff'tf' ^ ^* T'^- 
she would not regard thenT ^^® **^"* *^eo= 

had to do it^ llhku rivf hl^" "^f '^^ * *^«^« to play h 
of you. ^^*" «*^^ ^^e'^ qiute a good and joUy ac, 

difficult yet." *^ ^^'^ ^*<* ^ «ay something 

matters." ^ 8®* ^e**©'. dear. That is v 

loiuy^LttogXtrS'^^*^^- "lamsotir 
I, are we?" »° ^ «^®ep. Neihe, we are at peace, you 

hefd^JZl,^nSSnSSi^^^^^^ <^oor by 

her to go. But he oJvZTTf' ^* H"" *^ ^ ^ ^e wan 
encouraging her to answer An^ sign of assent to her, a 
voice aU thi authorit^oTher ^t *^ *^^* '^^ P"* ^*« 

think'^of t^£„J^e"lse^^^^^ tt^" "f f'? ^* P«^« ' ^^ 
Hany, like 2oft ctt at suSet W? '* ^^P ^^^ '0"= 
sleep, and when you wake Wi ^? y^''^®" ^^ i<>. a 
still soft round ^u Ind V,^?^' ^''''^ *^*«'' y^" will &id 
night, my darlSi/" ' ^ ^'"^^ encompassing you. Goc 

" '^&f tme " " e' Li T *^7 --P^^t^'y feu. 
there when f w^ke ?" '^''^ ^^«"y- " '''^ you 



ying that haa 
I want to ask, 

WB of you." 

bad to speak 
• and for the 
n. Thoughts 
it were, peer- 
it them out ; 



le fluttering 
)thing more 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 301 

Eleanor waited without movement just where she was. and 
then very quietly Bot up and passed out of the door, which 
Btt James still held open. The doctor remained behind, and 
she went back mto Harry's study, where she had left Marian. 

« w*^l^*» ""i? *^®^ waiting, and got up as Eleanor entered. 
WeU ? she said. 

far*'^*"^ ^ ^°°® *** sleep," said Eleanor. " It is good so 
Then the coarser and more selfish nature asserted itself. 

.. S *®' ™® ^" ^^®^ Marian. 

Yes ; he asked if you had come this evenine." 
You told him ?" * 

« B,Y®\' ^^i ^ ^^^ " ^^ ' *°*®^ *° see yo«." said Eleanor. 

Jjut— tu lie was too tu:ed to care about anything. He 
went to slct^p almost immediately," 

Marian did not reply for the moment ; then she pointed vo 
the soiled telegram which Harry had gone out to send, and 
which lay on the table. •' » . » " 

" I think I quite understand," she said. " You left that 
there, and I read it. That gives the gist of it all, does it not ? 
Sums up the last six months." 

Eleanor drew back a little from her. With Harry lying 
there, helpless and shattered, it seemed to her as if to speak 
of that side of things was Lke striking him. She could, and 
did tiy to comfort Marian, because she and Harry had been 
fond of ewjh other, and because she was in trouble, but it was 
a very different thing to dwell on their definite relations. The 
difference might be one of sentiment only— the one was 
aotuaUy identical with the other— yet over the one all her 
human compassion and charity lovingly expended itself, from 
the other she shrank as from a thing unclean, that might soU 
the punty that hes round anyone in mortal danger. 

1 can t think of all that just now," she said. " It lies 
qmte outside the crisis where we are !" 

Marian shook her head. 

therf »* ^ ^^" ^^® ^^^^" " ^^®'® ^ Harry's choice written 

IVom outside, so it seemed, there came back to Eleanor a 
sudden flash of her fighting spirit. 

" Yes, Harry has chosen," she said. 

" And you ?" 
^ " HJs choice is mine. How could it be otherwise, as I love 

With a sudden impulse Marian went to her and kissed her. 



80- 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



! 



youf5Sffi^i;j**^'Sf*1- "And I wish you gcK 
^t has bei^mTe pTwrs^m/fauriTfr^^^' < 

M^'^^^^^^^^^^^^^ the . 

To!^iuh"n:^:^'^z^! ^^ -^"^^ °r « ^j^ from th, 

be hoped for ot dSed tL « ^""^T^ ^°*^^« «^o« 
him an night^anrS^ase of nJ^'^A^^.-^'^' ^^'^^d «< 

bridge, hearing tLor^ct of 'gr^eT^Cr ^^°" ^* ^' 

trouble, and aU the blackneS J«!j ^^^^t, woven into 

her stiU. there were DoS?fS^«?5lu^'"P®°^ ^^^ ^^ng 

gloiy of starS Amon^ t?«if *^* ?^^e the night in 

now that it had hap3*^,?r^*^**«'?°«(«ot8tn 

which she had had wffh W h,? i^'^'^i^ """P^^ ^^ ^tx 

been told, any time d^rinA^ husband's mistress. Had 

bave met En belS w"^ ^'^ '"?^*^' ^^^^t she w< 

ber and conSd hef wonfJ hT" 'm ^' '?''^^ ^^« «at 

away, she would Cr^aMtLfr ^^^"^ ^«' «« «t« ^ 

able that lay so far outsMe fh« Sf' V^'.°° «^«^* "O^^c* 

now that it had hanrSnS •♦ ^ ^^'^ «* possibility. 1 

She bad tWghoKose'lSf *^ *?^^^^ ^^^^^ 
Marian in her mind waZ«fS ^^^^estered aU thought 

ber. for fear S thL Std L^ ^ '^^^' i^capsuJat: 
poison and blacken her wSe Kr'S T^ ^"^ «^°' 
Manan coureing throueh her hl^^' ?"* ''°^' ^^^^^ ^ 
not with poison SSh! ^^' ?^ *® «Peak, filling 
to explain! S'sl^anje^ swer?r"°"^ tendem^^a 
flcending that, burning wfh a wMt«r,^^^^^^^^ «"* tra 

was the thought of hlnvCZt^^'* T ^""mphant flan 
blood was on^fire with Z\ZTt^t Si'd a^Z Kra^ 



you good luck, 
V are difficult 
)mber that all 
and onrse me, 

Is the door. 



are.' 



rom the siok- 
3e, for Harry 
I more could 
ould sit with 
uld be sum- 
ay an early 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



303 



and hu desires again, he had turned back to her at thu last 
moment, and though that return had coat him at the least a 
Uelong disablement, she could not but feel that even in this 
shattering and maiming there were the seeds of a wonderful 
recompense. Harry had turned to her again, even when 
drunken and inflamed with other desires. The last signal he 
flew was for her. ^ 

Then she looked a little more alosely into the night in 
which such stars as these sang together. His death she did 
not contemplate at aU. Though she knew that his life was 
still sraspended by a thread over the gulf that Ues round all 
earthly existences, she believed with her entire soul that even 
now he was swinging back over the edge again, and her 
thoughts clustered like honey-laden bees round their future 
together. All her heart went out to him m a great gush of 
tender sympathy at the thought of his restricted activities, 
but the same love from which that broke forth constructed 
a futmre that should be more beautiful than anything in the 
past had been. Sir James had said that with a bram hke 
his, life was by all means worth the living, and though she 
knew only too well the conditions 'mder which hitherto his 
brain x.ad put forth its flowers, it appeared to her that this 
accident might be just the violent uprooting necessary for its 
transplantation into a sound and healthy soD. To her, brave 
and optimistic when there was most call for courage, the star- 
shme penetrated into the darkest of the night. The golden 
house of which once she and her father had talked seemed to 
have begun building in the hour when, to outward view, aU was 
da^est, and to be rising into the horizon of the future, instead 
of being silhouetted in ruins against the sunset of the past. 

Such was the aspect and interpretation of what had 
happened on which she fixed her faith. Even if her ideal was 
realized, she knew that for certain there must be days and 
weeks of difficulty and almost impenetrable gloom in front 
of them both, but it was her resolve to look through that and 
out beyond where she beUeved the golden house would stand, 
bhe expected no miracle, and asked for none. She did not 
think that because Harry had suffered this dreadful maiming 
his nature would instantaneously receive such sweetness or 
strengthemng as to render aU things easy. She only saw, and 
that very dimly, that in an accident of this sort, blind and 
wanton though it might appear, there were features that 
might be part of a design so beautiful, so wisely planned 
that even now she must hold her breath for the wonder of 



804 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



ttaelf in order tol^lizt %;!*• ,tl?*^°' »«d ^o 
below the raxface ^It S,. i/*^? *" **»® *»me, go Uttk 
come upon STh^H^^S? l"1 "»'«M«<i at whal 
or later in the^^JSt2^^♦^®" *"** ^°« half^^ond J 
without oollisionwd hl^«' mI°*' ^*»"^^ »»a^ pawed 

once mor© have on«wf ?« '^ *** London, she supposed 

That had^SlneS £fo^ ^R ^"^ '^d MarifHS 
•omethinc sfi^r ♦ h^„ ^i! V^ *' "^^^^d that Harry He 

Junction, there wrnotSrttwnHS^^r^«^«™«^ 
was not accidental a^ fr^ ^LT°'^*^' ?1*^® ^^w it, 

for him-they must hracci&sS'°^75^..H«^. her 
for a smile merely "" "*'°*°®^t8. too. And that was a ma 

d4>^r27JLtrn5lL^/^^^^^^ 

made sure that Ws nMseffi;.!! S. '*"" ,*^^^P ' »°d' ^a. 
came baok to th^st^v t^™t> ^® °°''^? °««* ^o' ti»e nif 
posted before ^5i5ght HeTJ^r"'^ ^^*^" *h»t ^^t 
the earliest po8t.r^£^ shof,M l ®' ^"'* ^^« fr««» her 
two letters. irone!'ho^' oouS hJr' ^^pmother ; but of , 
in the other, how diSlt wS^lJ thHS."*"*^ ^«' ^an 
the one fot which she wTea^er ^?^ "^''"^ ^ ' ^^e tc 

"^^'.2^»y"(itran), 

an accidenrThe'^ia^jT^,,^^^ ^"^*^* "^^ ^^^i^g has h 

motor, and biso^fa^'t t7d'J« T ^^ T*' I*^« 

minute or two. and then. tSii God?"h/'*T Y"^. ^^^ ^°' 

w the first essential for hisZov^^^ Oh S^^^^ 't?P' ^^' 

mjured, he never will heM^^' P^' ^^y' his spine 

now it doesn't seem to me cSeltZn^^^r^.*"^ ^^^ «^ 

?nd so it had to happen aSS I Zn'fi^^ '. 9^ *"«^«d i 

IS something beautifol goi^ ^ no^* ^^^i^ {^^« *hat th« 

have been fiis will mufSf ,>? T °H* «>f i* all. It mu, 

And when it hap^nTh^^i* on ht'^ ^* f^* *^« '^^^t"" 

gram, asking me to come^To^ J*^.*^ '^^^ "^« » *«I' 

me because le had been wtak^anH ^^ *J ^''°®- ^^ ^anto 

-I know mamma h^ teS'to 1^"**"*^^ * ^^''^^ f^en. 

So even in the worst of KaknSL V*!* """^^ ^'^'^ ««« him 

80 proud of that. "^ "^^^^^ss he turned to me. I fee 

"Baddy. I saw her, too. She dined with me. and we 



oonoentrste 
liftd to faraoe 
to little way 
kt what had 
HJond sooner 
passed him 
gram. She 
jposed, and 
^n together, 
any needed 
ides, if that 
vemed oon- 
»ew it, that 
7, her love 
M a matter 

g after the 
»d, having 

the night, 
t must be 
)m her by 
but of the 
ler hand ? 

She took 



? has had 
It was a 
►nly for a 
3p, which 
s spine is 
yet even 
lowed it, 
lat there 
It must 
•eautiful. 
e a tele- 
wanted 
in friend 
)ee him. 
. I feel 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 305 

hS^Vif ^"5® "^"J*"^ *»"y' •"^ »" bittemeM. I think 
iJlS? t tiVt *J^*" "^^ » Ji*tl« beast about hw ^v 
ownlieart, but I believe it is aU right now IwonH^ 5? ^J 
oould come UD to-morrow and -eeTe ? IshJuW Ske t?ffl 
to yon, and. I expect, cry a little on your dew oldVhoSMe? 
You told me once, on one of our Christmas E^wSi ah^« 
me 'yo^ ^" ? trouble and so this time you mt^com *S 
me. You see, I couldn't come to you in what hiui ihl«i 

S^w^ha^'**'"l^"^r '' ^" ooncer/ed wSh my H^^t 
now that you know, I want to talk to you so muJh^^' 

1 have no plans, of course, of any sort. One do«m't 

^Zrl/^* "^ ^PP^'^k »"* I <^^'^ beUWe thltl^* 
wgomg to leave me, just after he had sent for me Uke tS 
Good-night. dear Send me a telegram to sLy tf youl^ 
come. At least. I know you will, but say when 1 maf e^ 

"Your 

be;^!T\irkre^S5 ssTSi^^nSytals 

stepltW* "^^ *^*' ""^ ^**^ ^«' P«^ «»^« ^te to her 
..Jf^Pf^^ had to be written to also, and there was tha 

SfiSSl *^ mqumes. That, again, Eleanor hked writhe 
fnJ 1 V^ sorry for the innocent cause of the catasteophf * 
and. luckily, could give him comfort. «»«wiiropne, 

«- " Jf \T^ ??® ^f ^8 **'** °^y husband is going on as weU 
as possible, though his condition is very seiSus ^d T 
W you will like to know that he told m^m thl f^w i^utel 

iiTm' o ::^Tr';s."'^* *'^ "^^'^^^ ^^ -*-^^ ^^^t^ 

pen'^Thrui^etCed'' '°°'' ^°^ ^^--' P"* ^^^^ ^^r 

^^Even before Eleanor entered the room she heard him caU 

"Nellie, Nellie," he said, with a sharp ring of anxiety in 

20 



M6 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



"I WMt to tee yoa ; I wuit to be ran jo 



his Toioe. 
there." 

She bent oyer him and ki«ed him. 

fc^J^S; ****** 22"' **«"^- "IthoughtperhaMyoni 
have left me. Ifhere was reaaon enougE." ^ 

" rL?v" f *^ tJ»o»8ht »nything of the kind, dear " she 
"Go to steep agam, and don't iSsUly." "' ""' ■*»• 

sidfthM^oJh^s*' '" "^*** *^^ ^<^ *»-* •^-•y lay 

She sat down in a chair that the nuise Dushed nnrfA, 
close by the bed and gently roUed up ™^e of W^s 

round the crook of has elbow. Her thumb lav close S 

♦ "That's you, Nellie," he said drowsily. 

fiii!??i?"^ i?*'*!f1v.'^^.l^« fi~ ^^ her mind So ol 
fiUed throuffh and through with love, had th^gone to s 

hkethat. Now there was sleep only fOThim^^for her a 
sure of her hand relaxed, he stirred uneasily but befo« 

SSS °Tf.*^ "^^^3 «\^ ^<i '^de thr^'nSar liS 
agam. After a httle the nurse came and wlSsiSS 

and fo/ '"* ""^^'^ '^^ '^^- " Y°" «« ««* «P q«i< 

But before she had risen he stirred at her movement i 

she resumed her position, with a beating JlSuofTv't 

even m sleep he wanted her. Then by dene^fi «XT«* 

ta'^^'JZ ""'i"^''^ ^'^^ determSeS Cgahi^r 

Tdnw t? ^'"^'i^ ^«*^*« l^aS^m^lg^iTw^en t^^^wai^ 
shadow between them. To her dawnhig sense it wm om 
the earhest nights of aU. when she woke flow^likeTSs to t 

rif^^'rU^^^u ^i '^°^' ^^«° «i^e came to hersetf Sa 
and reahzed where she was, and what had bipS X 

was no feehng of change. Harry was uttXK to her 
ever, there had been no one in the world but he ' 



THE WEAKER VEfiBEL 307 

W to ;S^**^ "^'^ "^ *»« •-•ke. and again .poke to 

"No^v H**'^ ^*^ ' *"^«d Eleanor. 
morS^..?*^ ^^- ^ *« •*•*• He wiU want you in the 

^^^^L&^\^X^:^r --^ tHere came no 
over hiB, for a momeS. ha^ff^^^ed *^ '^n'^'. ^^V"^ 
bending towards him lCh^^t!S* f " *^**"y ®' ^o^. 
vigilTaSd feU in goSn biS^ws ilnH^. *"? "^^^^^ ^ *»« 

.. ^*y i,^ Wm ?" she said to tKSe. 
Gen«;X**f^- I."* ^'^ «^^P the be™ for it » 
and to L Um *^Rt%T"*^^J^ forehe^^'ind his eye. 

thatrt would Spdo^tohJhl'^" ^'^^.^^^^ 
the great lovf£,dTet^t^t;"*^^li*^r»^*ti»«. AU 
•he would have chosen that her hekrt^dh*^vP^^^'«' 
riip from her. and be made one wkTh^S. t- ^l "^^"W 
strength of which she had «> mLT ™' «>vmff him the 
which%ithoutWm wMworJhn S?-^' *°? *" *h® fi^e of her, 
when;heki8wdlhi^^d^'i^^,^*^K«- ,^ *hat one moment 
bim aU shTw^h^ Cl^hTn^f ^ **ri: *^^'"' "^^ «»ve 
sleeping face had it aU **^« '®'* *»' h«' '' t^e white 



CHAPTER XVm 

Tn winter ranshine wm bright and warm on the gui 
front at the Vioarase, though to-moRow would be Chriati 
Day, and Eleanor dragged a baaket^shair through the Fre 
windows in the drawing-room, and sat, with her cloak roi 
Itff' <>opMk>naUy fflanoing at the paper, in the brick wind 
air. There had been a white frott the night before, but 
hour of this warm sunlight had been sufficient to melt it 
the grass, and the lawn lay glistening with innumen 
diamonds of dew. She kx>ked rather tired and wan, 
th«» was neither any frowning of her brows nor restlessi 
in her attitude, and her face wore an expression of the kindl 
sorenit^. Little shadows of trouble, it is true, passed ove 
from time to time, but her face was wondrafully bright beh 
them. Thev were but as the shadows of clouds that i 
across the blue fariffhtness of some spring day. 

The attention she gave to her paper was limited to 
most momentary ^;httces, and for tbe most part her e 
dwett on the lawn m front of her. There was a robin th( 
who tot the last ten minutes had been gradually coming nea 
her by a series of spasmodk hops, between each of ^^h 
stood quite still, and had now got to the very edge of i 
path. In the ivy of the house a bevy of spairows were c 
pk>^ on some unknown business that demanded a deal 
shnll exasperated chiirupiogs, and a thrush was listening 
the movement of worms in the lawn, going from place 

?lace with scudding movements and a head on one si 
hen a foolish bluebottle, hybemating somewhere in the fra 
of the drawing-room window, determined that winter \ 
over, and buzzed noisily forth into the air. Poor soul ! Tl 
was his last manoeuvre. The spairows issued forth from i 
ivy in a jostling multitude, and there would be no m( 
winter or spring for him. All those things Eleanor observ 
in a rather detached manner. Her eyes and attention f ocuss 
themselves on the figure of her father, who was coming i 
the path from the ohunh. 

306 



he gutlen> 

ChrittmM 

bheFrenoh 

loak round 

k windleM 

ve, bat an 

melt it off 

numerable 

wan, but 

Mtleuneas 

le kindlieet 

led over it 

ght behind 

that paw 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 
" Oh, daddv. there you are f the laid. " Oood-moniing, 
w Jj^r*^' "** ^^ break/art in bed." »«™»K. 

He Mw ed her. 

h.'iSd'JlijS^'''^ Too look . IKU. tl»d. my *«,•• 

She lauflhed. 

" X*f' 1 "oppoee it'u beoauae I am a little tired. You 
Sh"S^ ?Jr *?; If you had been thitmgh 4i. uTmonth^ 
2?„f^{i'#***^?«*'*' ^*»«> «y poor daruSff wae doomed to 
SS J?i'*? **ll 'T* **'.*^ '^*' *^»* *S3ne« could never 

SfA^^ifS *»»«>7,5'inaking things eader for him." 

mS^J^if* u '^^^'^ *^® °»»^° ^ »»« o*"*!' into a 
more nipporting shape. 

dJInl**"^?* ti** u T.**"*i »°<? P»*«*» ™« ft Httle sermon. 
!hf?ZL '?!i?'^^- I r® ***° '«"*»« ""^ oJo«d» come ove^ 
the face of the sun. I haven't beenj) rotten as not to Immr 
that the sun was there all the time, but I have let littte oSS 
oome when there shoojd not have been any at all " 
He fetched a chair from his study, and sat down, filling his 

«' l^V^i *?. ** ^^ °*y ■®™<>° 'o' to-morrow," he said. 
«« u^i ^' 7**" ^ ^^ »*• You can talk a sermon to 
mojand I will Eelp you by Mking questions. Daddy, is it 

2K!: .11 fi,*?. y«^'^,»yj I* oughtn't to have been tiring, 
when all the time one's heart knows that it is the greatoSt 

^^.fSSH' ^?,?, know really that he is better wheVhe 

MI. Ramsden leaned towards her. 

«i«k; w ^'^il**'!.' ¥.«^<^' " »»<««»« he told me so last 
Sf «■ ^^^^ *i? H *^" * P«rf~t deva to you, to use 
hw own words. And then he said one thing more, WSohl 
thmk I will teU you. He said : • And aUtEe time I would 
^''Jhngly go to hell for her sake.' " 
»fe"°i.5 ?y®" suddenly fiUed with tears. 

h^Jrh ^i^rl?^ M® I "^^ °"®<*- " Then it's I who have 
been the perfect devil, because I let myself wonder whether 
he wasn't sok and tired of me. Oh, daddy, you know whaJ 
lond'^."''^ ^^^ ^^'* "°'^^«'' but^B;,rtlSgVme 

*« J^* JT*®' ^?' ^<*^8ent smile that Eleanor knew so weU 
and toved so well came over his face. 



310 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



"' ^'i,*^^^^' y®" ^'^^ *e" nie about it, I see " she saM 
^ '.^fu' y^'' '"y ^^^^ ; I o»« t«U you a UtJte ' and thlt n, 

faihngs. just as we must be kind to the failings of other^ 

anytmng else. But there is one thine about whioh wa ^ 
make no compromise with regard to^oSvM and JhS 

S!r^^'* i^ ^°' perhaps, did you. but I am as certSa 
Harry s mtentions as I am of voiirs So HonV ««^J^*u^i 
about yesterday. That wa8V;'Svicrto SL^Vbo^ 

fe' t*^^ pFe-rLtaro?K^ Thersinri 
mthe dust of the past. And of all people in the w^rid^ 

fhT J' ^^'^l*"' ^"«^* ^°* *o moW^when you ?hSk 
ind^litT'is""'" ^^" ^^'^^'^^ "^^* «^^ w^rpC^u 

•« Mv ^r^^v! ^""^ ^^'V^**' ^° y°" ?" «he asked. 
My dear, how could I not feel it ? He was— weU 1 

Hnn S ?7 bad way indeed when that accfdeThap^ne 
n you had been like that, would you not-you in v(f^o« 

cunng him ; it has cured him, perhaps. And then vou mn 
be kind and patient, for cures are very of teTpa^iS p^eZ 
a«d we are apt to cry out against them, and say^^v « 
amel and senseless. But there, as Oliver CromweU onTe n 
SSnT''" we say that it is iust possible that we may" 

Eleanor gave a long sigh. 
T 2 ^' ^ ^?'" ^^® ^^'^- " But^but it is as if Hairv an 

JtCa^eSL":^^*'^'' ^^' **^^^ «"^^^^^' ^y -^-^« 

He laid his hand on her knee 

"My dear Nellie," he said, "as if I did not know thaf 
You mean that you will never have a child by him I kZ 
But, as it IS, you have got Hairy. Think ! Were theS^no 
w^e catastrophes possiblc^obable even ? And 7hS 

left^ ^/f^wt'^'tf ^ ^«®'" ^ '"^'^^ *be best of what i 
«„«.i 1 ^ ^""^ -^^ ^"^^ ««^' ^y dear, I can teU you thai 
nurees welcome signs of crossness iK thei^ patients, for thev 
know It means that they are getting on. and are b^inSng to 



Bsaid. 
that must 

our own 
ler people. 
We make 
aot expect 

1 we must 
id that is 
a mess of 
certain of 
I thinking 
o. Don't 
md begin 
mmon to 
mourning 
i^orld, my 

think of 
oor soul ! 

I. 

-well, he 
appened. 
/ova own 
1? It is 
ron must 
processes, 
they are 
once re- 
' may be 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 311 

^Jl;S^'^^^*i*5' ^^ " *P»«^y- Harry was not 
vwrjr apathetic yesterday." 

'No, tiie duck !" said Eleanor, wipiii^ her eves. " Oh 
daddy, what a miserable little wretcl [ am ! I d .. want to 
be bigger !" 

" Go on, dear, as you have been aoirg," he sa; i. " You 
will get quite large enough." 

He beat out the ashes of his pipe against hi« boot, and the 
confiding robm flew away with an indignant flutter. 

And about your acting again, Nellie 1" he asked. 
4. ^ » If '} ^^ h^ our— our horrid time about yes- 
^ul'^l^^^'^' A* *®^*' *^** ^as at the base of it all. 
Uh, daddy, he reproached me so, and it cut like a knife ! 
But the dwrhng didn't mean it, I know, now that you have 
tow me what he said afterwards. But, very much against 
my better judgment, I yielded to him, and I wrote this mom- 
mc to Louis Grey saying that I could not teU him any date 
when I should be able to play again. I think it is a mistake, 
but when Harry is brought down I shall tell him that I have 
»Slf .*rS>J??«?®f You see, Louis wanted to open again 

3? 5.- J^! ^^^""^J^t r^ ^^^' WeU, Har^made it 
so difficult. He said that lymg on his back was not venr 
amusmg, and that the only thing left him was me. I loved 
him saying that in a way-^t least, I loved that he should 
leel It. He said that when I began to act again, I should 
be away all day, which isn't quite true. But there it 

Eleanor was silent a moment, and the robin hopped 
nearer. *^*^ 

"But when I think of the evening after his accident," she 
went on, when he utterly turned to me and depended on 
me, as he did, I feel that nothing in the world ought to weigh 
against his wish. I only wish that he wished differently. I 
feel torn m two about it. Nothing, I really assure you, would 
weigh with me at all if I was sure that I was acting for the 
best m his regard. But I don't think it is best for Mm to be 
accustomed to depend completely on me. The poor darlinir 
must still make the best of what is left him, and when I am 
contmually with him he makes little initiative effort. He 
must begm to think and to feel for himself again. That is 
why I said I yielded against my better judgment. He said 
— he said dreadful thmgs yesterday." 

Eleanor covered her face with her hands a moment. 
He didn t mean them— oh, I know that !" she said— 



312 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



but when you love somebody— well, very much— whal 
says matteiB very much, even though it is^rmeJr 
said he could no doubt console himsefi in the oW wl^ 
he didn't mean it, but it hurt '" ^' 

l^JS.T'^*^ l,^^ ^^ °^ °^**e' ^ the drawing-K 
^^iiw K^^- ?*?«ien ««de her appearance w§h 
arms fuU of hymn-books and Christmas pi^nts. 

Good-mommg. Eleanor," she said, "and I am so riac 
iSSl r""^« <l"i«* ^nd enjoying the sun. l^hfVo 
bnng out another chair, too, and join in your conversati 

garden m order to put the hymn-bcikS which wTu^ 
choir.pra<5tice last night ba<5k hx the church, and,! oS 
make one journey serve, I thought I would tkke the cE 
presents down to the Parish Room, and hang themon^ 
Chnstmas-tree. I have not had time yet to my Kwd-mo 

I am able t^ S^ "^k^A ^f °^P* J^^" ^ ^^ «« ^^ankful tl 
1 am able to do everybody's work, and enjoy it James 

Cr^?n/? ^^^^ *^" hymniooks fo^ me-it^ Jll cost yS^'^fc 

ioS,^ ]l!r"^°".r"? ^.^^ °^« *^«°*y i° "taking th Jdoul 
fc7,fc^'^1!P/^ °^]^^ a^d the Parish iloom wSl y 
We a httle beef-tea. dear Eleanor, if it is long to Zai/i 
hinch ? I can caU to the kitchen from here, and they w 

S^ muTf^f"'" ^!t^' " ^* ^^"^d ^°* trouble yoir^m^ 
W.r * 11*^ '^''r '*. ^ y°"' ^^"^ E^c^ and Jane have ^ 
hands fuU, what with dear Harry wanting hi breakfe 
upstajrs and you yours as I am^L you were quite^l 

Mr. Ramsden took a pile of hymn-books from his wif 
and came near to disloyalty. 

JN^e s fault. We are not aU so strong as you." 
^.Sif^Ti'**^ ""^^"i recorded in her o^ n^d that her stet 
mother had a sort of stunning effect on her. She St stu^nj 
ring wlrfan" *'^ contemplation of a loud-roaring^T^ 

"But do let me help, too," she said, 
gravity''* *^^ ''^^^^^' PerpetuaUy renewed by the law o 

" I could not think of it. dear Eleanor. You were tirec 
this mormng. and so had your breakfast upst^L i toS 



I — ^what he 
leant. He 
vays. Oh, 

wing.room 
9 with her 

so glad to 
sh I ooold 
I venation. 
iTough the 
'6 used at 
Q order to 
children's 
>m on the 
x)d-mom- 
ad is very 
e all seem 
ikful that 
James, if 
t you but 
he double 
WiUyou 
wait for 
they will 
Dur maid 
ave their 
breakfast 
lite right 
Jver feel 

his wife, 

and not 

lier step, 
stunned 
;, never- 



ire tired 
I know 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



313 



yon will not mind my mentioning it, but would you — ^would 
you, next time you feel you are going to be tired in the "lom- 
mg, tell your maid to bring up your breakfast ? You see, 
EUen hcd to cook it separately from ours, whioh was quite 
right of her, for you were later than us — ^indeed, the message 
dM not get to the kitchen till half-past nine — and nothing is 
nastier than cold eggs and bacon ; and then Jane had to bring 
it up, and when Alice wanted Jane to help her with wrapping 
up the presents for the old people — ^why, Jane was nowhere 
to be found, because she was taMng up your breakfast. Yes, 
James ; I think you have got aU the hymn-books. Ten, 
eleven, twelve. That is right. No, there were thirteen. 
Where is the other one ? No, it is my mistake. There were 
only twelve. So there we are, and if you will kindly put 
them in the choir-seats, you can come back and sit down and 
talk to Eleanor till lunch-time. Are you sure you will have 
no beef-tea, dear Eleanor ? It can be made at once. And Mr. 
Louis Grey comes over from the Wilkins', does he not, to dine 
with us this evening ? And papa will arrive this afternoon, 
so they will talk Shakespeare together, and I am sure, Eleanor, 
you will be able to pick up some useful hints. Papa was 
always a great student of Shakespeare. He read a paper, 
I remember, to our Literary Society at Hoxton, about 
Hamlet's madness, which proved he was not mad at aU, 
or if he was, it was Ophelia's fault. It produced a great 
sensation." 

So Mr. Bamsden was borne o£E by this bright, hard force, 
and as they receded across the lawn Eleanor heard her step- 
mother's voice continuing its eager monologue. Then, as the 
stunning effect whioh her immediate presence always pro- 
duced wore off, Eleanor's thoughts went back again to the 
subject which habitually filled them. It was so much easier, 
where Harry was concerned, to let kindness take the place of 
wisdom, so much easier to do what he wanted thaq, by refusing 
that, to do what her mind believed was best for him. She 
was afraid that in this instance she had erred thus, and her 
conscience was not quite at ease about it. m bodily health 
he was getting stronger day by day, and day by day that 
apathy and indolence of brain which had preceded his accident 
was giving place to a quickness and vividness manifested at 
present cMefly in peevish irritation. And it was so difficult 
not to yield to him in any desire that he expressed. So much 
had been taken from him, that it seemed cruel not to gratify 
any whim of his. And yet Eleanor knew that it was not by 



314 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



than become that With 5?^ ^°?' ^^^e had iSn 

She felt that if he feiS^t^r^'jijS.^^T'^ «»^^ 
was oMable of, the fauSe wSh^i!?^ *^® >«* o^ »« tha 
unwwfcm that had S^r^ failh^^^^' J^at it would b^ 

danger she was in with reS to S°^^!5^*^°»- And 
her love weakly indulge S Z,T^ "^f* *^e danger of let 
M>d she felt that Se nf L «h i^?*' ^^^"^ ^^ty guide 
the Willdns' was fc'od by'tKp^iSj ojerU>L^'^J 
of guidance. •'^ ^"® «P"^t of mdulgence insi 

«««■>>« a more «pS ^tfan L^T »?°''8«' 1» ^4 

Djddy w« with mo to a ,it«e. and mamma ,™t p.« 

'^5»^^'«^''-.*^"'«^ *» ^a^tag-room, and Elli 
W^ToM. "^ S-^y- Jooking at tl>o papor tl„ 

andr^ftJ^yM«'. SJ»n I «e if thore i, anythin, 
No, don't bother L«f'. *.ii x 

botter that makes yon— wen^'l«?f^'- "P«* ''» gettins 

.%^^ "-'' '»««^'^'"l^Tti;jn's?^s 



e best of hjs 
h treatment 
lere helpless 
ad him die 
his brilliant 
>ndid fatu« 
Mesorvedly. 
all that he 
'ould be her 
I. And the 
Jr of letting 
guide him, 
ais Grey at 
loe instead 

Mt on the 
which he 
9> and she 
f sat, half 
he might 
control its 
'Ut by the 

ildn't you 
BautifuUy 



St passed 
•nd EUis, 
per that 
Dything, 



THE WEAKER VESSEL $16 

He was silent a moment. 

" I am better," he said at length, " and I'm going to be 
ever so much better than this. Nellie, do you kS?w the sS 
that you «)metimes hear gomg on in a spring day— just a sort 
^n^r r T?*^wr*''''® Of things waking up again after the 
winter ? Little thmgs crack in the bushes, and a bird chirps 

W n?Sf ™^ J .^® ^'^^^T^l ^'®"' ^ ^y a^al'e a long wlSE 
last night, and I thought I heard something of the sort going 

plan little scenes, to make imagmary conversations." 

one drew her chair close up to his. 

"Oh, Harry, dear Harry !" she exclaimed. 

He looked at her with a certain shy eagerness. 
There was one in particular," he went on, "about you 
and me. I had behaved very badly, you understand, and I 
made up a long lovely speech to show that I was sorry. It 
was reaUy meltmg, and quite genuine, Nellie. And then sud- 
denly I laughed at myself, because it was pure paddine. The 
fhe^pk^' ^^""^ '*• You knew, you see!^ It was no use iJ 

She laughed. 

«JS' -^^^^^./^^ were quite right to cut it out. Nobody 
needed it. Oh. before I forget, Harry ! I wrote to Louk 
this moming, and told him that he mustn't expect me to tell 

TW^^^r n"" ^^K^"""" "^7 beginning to act with him again. 
That s all. Go on about the stir in your brain " 

Harry raised his eyebrows. 

"Louis will be a much-puzzled man this moming, then" 
he said, because I also wrote to him, saying that I know 
vou were eager to begin work again, and asking him whether 
he was gomg to open immediately after Christmas. I stirred 
him up m fact. However, he's dining here to-night, and we 
will put thmgs straight !" 

.hlSf^'f%^l ^ '?!'^** 8^^y ^* ^y yo'^ »" ^y for ever," 
don'^you ?" ^""^ '* ""^ ^"^ ^''^ y*'"- You know that, 

1 H ^* uA^^u a°^??»i»« fact that I began to have inklings of 
last night," he said. " But I think, perhaps, it's time f dS 
somethmg more than grumble at you, Nellie " 
She smiled. 

Jll^.i'^^.u^' '?^ ^^"y' ^'^ b«8y!'-_do you re- 
member ?— when the work was going well." ^ " 

"And you used to go, which was a bore. Oh, NeUie if 

ever I make anything of my life except a mess, it will be you 






. i 



316 



THE WEAKER VESSEL 



who made it, not I! I owe yon eveiything— alwolat 
evervthing. And the debt is no burden. I tove it. Anx 
shall keep on runnmg into debt with you. I shall be «] 
and tL^esome, and impatient, a million times. Bat wiu y 
try to remember I am trying to do better V* 

She kissed him. 

" That's aU," she said. 



THX END 



BIIXUO AND aOMS, LTO., PBIMTIBa, OUILOFOKB 



kbsolately 
fc. Aiidl 
Ibeapoa, 
ttwmyoQ